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The Quarterly 2011


Dear Editor,

Dr Penny Flett’s article in June 2011 Quarterly titled ‘Virtual Visiting Rooms’ points at a monumental challenge for future Medical Leadership.

Out of around 60,000 years of human existence (National Geographic News, 2005), only the last century has seen increasing percentage of elderly in communities and the associated physical and psychological problems including isolation that Dr Flett has mentioned (Australian Government, 2002).

Modern medicine has had a huge contribution to evolution of humanity. Low maternal and perinatal mortality, availability of contraception, vaccination against common deadly diseases, reduction of infectious disease related deaths, new treatment options of chronic diseases and advances in psychological medicine are just a few examples of how medical science has helped reduce the traditional miseries of human life.

A natural outcome of the success of our professional contribution to society has been reducing birth rates and increasing life expectancy (The Treasury, Australian Government, 2011). As communities advance technologically and have increasing access to better quality medical care, these two parameters drift further apart with even lesser births happening and more people living longer. With reducing percentage of youngsters and increasing number of elderly - the challenge as to who looks after them and where - will always stare at us as we evolve further.

Medical Science has greatly contributed to this situation. Medical Leadership will have to be in the forefront to meet this challenge.

Dr Flett has discussed a multi disciplinary team approach to build capacity in communities to care for the elderly out of residential age care facilities as long as possible as the present age care model is likely to become unaffordable in a decade (King & Meagher, 2009). Effective Medical Leaders and not just clinicians will be required who can collaborate with the Government and other professionals as listed in the article, so that the elderly remain valuable participants of the communities in their homes as long as possible and have control of their lives till they want. The role of our college to help nurture and develop such talent can also not be understated.

Dr Pankaj Banga
RACMA Candidate


Australian Government. (2002). Past Demographic Trends in Australia and Population Projections to 2100. Retrieved July 17, 2011, from http://ww.aph.gov.au/house/committee/mig/skillmig/subs/Append11.pdf
King, D., & Meagher, G. (2009). Paid Care in Australia Politics, Profits, Practices. Sydney: Sydney University Press.
National Geographic News. (2005, June 24). Retrieved June 24, 2011, from National Geographic website: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/06/0624_050624_spencerwells.html
The Treasury, Australian Government. (2011). Australia's Demographic Challenges. Retrieved July 12, 2011, from Australian Government Treasury website: http://demographics.treasury.gov.au/content/_download/australias_demographic_challenges/html/adc-04.asp

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