• Vol. 27 No. 1, 125–130
  • 15 January 1998

Medicine and Surgery—History, Change and Challenge



In this lecture I will discuss the history of medicine and surgery in ancient China and India, and examine the value systems underpinning medical and surgical practice in these two civilizations. I will touch on some of the enduring “Asian” values that may be abstracted from the past to ensure that modern medicine along with surgery remains first and foremost a moral activity that renders public service, and is practiced with compassion and altruism.

I will outline briefly the spread of Western or allopathic medicine into Asia and the rest of the world. Finally, I will look at the challenges that confront us today with the intrusion of high technology and the market economy into the practice of our profession. I will show how this has fundamentally altered the way we practise medicine and surgery and the delivery of health care.

Mr Koh Yong Guan, guest-of-honour; Dr Tan Ser Kiat, Master, Academy of Medicine; Dr K C Tan, Chairman, Chapter of Surgeons; Dr Robert Jalleh from Malaysia; Dr Idral Darwis from Indonesia; Dr P B Chacha, my esteemed partner; Dr John Isaac, Master of Ceremonies; fellow academicians, practitioners and friends, allow me to express my sincere thanks to the Chapter of Surgeons of the Academy of Medicine for the opportunity to address the distinguished audience before me. It is indeed a great honour for me to deliver the 8th Chapter of Surgeons’ lecture.

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