Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Singapore’s off limits

Sir Michael's doctor has no practising rights in Singapore




THE legal process, which began two weeks ago to determine the medical fitness of Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, has hit a snag, The National reports.

Sir Michael's long-time physician, Dr Isi Kevau, who was scheduled to fly to Singapore today, does not have jurisdiction to perform any medical examination on the ailing prime minister, a medical doctor claimed yesterday.

Specialist surgeon Dr Kristoffa Robert Ninkama said from Australia that Kevau, or any other PNG doctor, could not produce a legally binding report on the prime minister because none of them were registered on the Singapore Medical Council and, so, they have "no practising right of whatever kind at any Singaporean health facilities".

Moreover, Kevau discharged his responsibilities of care over Sir Michael when he referred him to the doctors at the Singapore hospital who accepted him.

Doctor-patient confidentiality forbid that Kevau can just charge in there and return with a report.

Ninkama said: "This effectively means he has no jurisdiction of care to Sir Michael as a doctor in Singapore other than an ongoing interest of his care as a second or third party.

"This means Kevau cannot perform a physical examination on Sir Michael while in Singapore for it will be deemed illegal.

 "He, therefore, cannot produce an independent primary medical report and make recommendations on the health status of Sir Michael from any Singaporean hospital because he ceases to exist as a doctor within Singaporean jurisdiction," Ninkama said.

"Any primary report from Kevau from Singapore would be deemed illegal and may not be legally-binding."

Kevau had himself cited jurisdictional and doctor-patient confidentiality issues when he addressed the National Executive Council last week and reported that he would not be able to produce a medical report as directed by cabinet.

Acting Prime Minister Sam Abal revealed on Sunday that Kevau was due to fly to Singapore today to see the PM.

Ninkama said this must follow set processes to avoid unnecessary ethical and legal repercussions.

He suggested getting the chief physician in charge of Sir Michael in Singapore, or his delegate, to write a fully informed interim medical report and recommendations on his patient to Kevau.

"This primary report, and what is observed at ground zero in Singapore of Sir Michael's physical state of health, together with his personal and family's wishes, will form the basis for Kevau and another PNG colleague to formulate an informed and independent secondary report and recommendations for the acting PM, NEC and PNG," Ninkama said.

A medical report from two recognised medical practitioners is a requirement under section 142 of the Constitution to remove any sitting prime minister for reasons of physical or mental incapacity to carry out the duties of their office.

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