PETALING JAYA: The huge number of medical students graduating each year has become a critical issue and an independent task force is badly needed to address it, says a medical faculty dean.
Universiti Malaya medical faculty dean Prof Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman said extending the moratorium on new medical courses was not enough.
“People don’t seem to think there is a crisis. I think there is a crisis and we need to find solutions,” she said.
Last week, Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility president Datuk Abdul Hamid Abdul Kadir said the Government must exert political will to remove foreign medical schools that did not meet the standards from its list of recognised schools to address the large number of graduates, besides extending the moratorium on local schools.
There are 394 recognised foreign schools listed in the Second Schedule of the Medical Act 1971.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam had said he expected the moratorium on new medical courses and institutions, imposed by the Government in 2011, to continue for at least another five years.
Dr Adeeba said the task force, if set up, should comprise representatives from relevant ministries, agencies, private medical schools and patient rights groups.
“It should draw up short, medium and long-term solutions to tackle the issue of oversupply and quality of the graduates and report directly to the Prime Minister,” she said.
Dr Adeeba said UM had reduced it intake in stages from 220 to 120 in the last few years.
This year, the university implemented a system similar to the United Kingdom’s entrance exams BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT), an aptitude test.
“We found from the pilot project over the last two years that those who do well in BMAT did well in the medical school,” she said, adding that this would mean they would have fewer issues in completing their housemanship.
Last year, it was reported that about one-third of housemen extended their training, thus, delaying new graduates from taking up posts, while one-fifth of them quit as they could not cope with the stress.
Deputy Health director-general Datuk Dr S. Jeyaindran concurred with the idea of setting up a task force to bring all stakeholders together.
The ministry had addressed the delay in houseman placement by increasing the number of discipline postings from six to nine, two years ago, he said.
Currently, medical graduates wait three to six months for housemanship as there were only about 5,000 slots a year.
On Wednesday, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had said it would fast-track the housemanship of high-performing houseman while Hospital Shah Alam and Hospital Langkawi would be made houseman training hospitals in future while the Royal Military Hospitals would begin accepting houseman from 2017.
The number of training hospitals had been increased from 38 hospitals in 2009 to 44 hospitals last year, he said.
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