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Something to Ponder: The Hippocratic Oath

  • 3 min read

This week, we had two different stories from the medical world that caught my interest. The first one was from the City of Cape Town where seven health clinics were reported to have recently scooped platinum status for service delivery. What an amazing accomplishment for the staff, medical and others who tirelessly work to deliver on services in these clinics!

The second story was the sad one of the doctor, who was sentenced to 5 years in prison after being convicted of 259 counts of medical aid fraud! Now, this was a very disappointing story and to think the person involved is one trusted to faithfully serve the nation. When I read the second story, I asked myself whether those who break in their places of work were ever committed to their cause in the first place. The doctor, an audiologist and speech therapist, for example, is not only bound by the South African laws, but also by the Hippocratic Oath they take upon graduating and before they venture into the world to deliver their services.

According to Wikipedia, “The Hippocratic Oath is an oath historically taken by physicians. It is one of the most widely known of Greek medical texts. In its original form, it requires a new physician to swear, by a number of healing gods, to uphold specific ethical standards.” Did the disgraced doctor not think in defrauding the medical aid scheme, which brought the cases against him, he was breaking both his oath and the law?

When people go against all that is lawful and ethical, do they think of the future and what it may bring upon themselves and the community they serve as well? A good or bad decision does not only affect the person carrying it out, but it also has a ripple effect on others too. Sometimes, the effects are felt for a long time.

Going back to the seven clinics in Cape Town, they actually join other sixty-three facilities that had been previously awarded the same award. The clinics had been assessed under the National Ideal Clinic Framework. What is interesting to me is the fact that there is personnel in those facilities who are taking their work and commitment seriously. They work within the laid down laws and most likely go beyond the call of duty often.  This has to be the case for the services they offer to be of better standards than of others in the same field of work around them.

This success story of the Cape Town health clinics has brought to light the fact that it is not beyond us to do what is right. It is not beyond us to deliver on what we are entrusted with and it behooves us to be faithful in little as well as in much. With or without an oath administered to us, it is the expected and proper thing to always do our best to serve in our area of responsibility so that we leave a legacy for those who follow behind. There is hope still.