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December 16, 1999
Emergency! Docs Wanted
A P Kamath
Kabir Jivraj is a very worried man. Perhaps he is the most worried doctor in Calgary. For he has been complaining about the shortage of doctors in Calgary and has been pleading for recruiting at least 200 doctors to meet the needs of the growing city population. He wants the recruitment done on an emergency footing.
Canada is facing a severe shortage of medical doctors.
With hundreds of Canadian doctors migrating across the border to America, or to Australia, Canada is gingerly trying to woo foreign-trained medical doctors, but physicians like Jivaraj know too well how the red tape tangles people up.
Canada has been looking to South Africa to provide doctors. Many Indian doctors working in big Canadian cities such as Toronto and Montreal believe that Canada does not want to make serious effort to recruit more doctors from India.
"They (Canadian officials) have heard some bad stories about Indian medical schools," said one Indian doctor, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"They do not seem to realize that those of us who are here have excellent reputations. And if they look across the border, they will find Indian doctors doing wonderful work."
Kabir Jivraj is the chief medical officer of the Calgary Regional Health Authority. His main concern is to increase the number of family doctors.
There are also problems recruiting neurologists, psychiatrists, anesthetists, general surgeons and other specialists, Jivraj said.
In many small Canadian towns, there is just one psychiatrist working for several hospitals.
``It will reach a crisis if we don't do something about it,'' Jivraj said.
His remarks came on the heels of a plea Monday by other health officials for up to 230 more nurses to enable it to open 50 temporary beds for the peak winter season.
Jivraj said many new Calgarians are having difficulty finding a family doctor. The city needs about 0.92 family doctors per 1,000 residents. It now has 0.83 per 1,000, he said.
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