Reilly's visit to China
Sir, – I read with growing concern reports of Minister for Health James Reilly’s recent official visit to China (August 18th). It appears our Government is now intent on securing increased Chinese involvement and “investment” in our health service. Presumably, this is why representatives of the Royal College of Surgeons, Royal College of Physicians and Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) are reported to have accompanied the Minister (Home News, August 11th).
It is extremely regrettable that no debate or discussion has taken place on these developments within the world of Irish medicine. As a member of the ICGP, I have no idea as to why my college has participated in this trip, who has financed it or what the objectives are.
Furthermore, it must be noted that China has an appalling record when it comes to medical ethics. Widespread compulsory abortions up to eight months gestation and the harvesting of organs from executed prisoners are two blatant examples of this.
In the past year, I believe the reputation of the Irish medical profession was greatly damaged by the refusal of many academic and professional organisations to unequivocally condemn the government of Bahrain for the illegal detention and torture of Irish- trained doctors. It now appears that some people have learned little from this experience, and may now be establishing potentially lucrative relations with another regime that enjoys a limited grasp of human rights.
Regardless of the economic difficulties that our nation finds itself in, our profession must never allow its ethical and moral responsibilities to be compromised.
While some prominent doctors might prefer diplomatic silence, I believe that a full and open discussion of these issues must take place as a matter of urgency. – Yours, etc,