PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) has suggested more stringent entry requirements for medical courses, says Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
The MMC president said suggestions had been made to the Higher Education Ministry, which will have the final say.
He said the minimal entry qualifications for any undergraduate and professional courses were determined by the ministry.
"The council recently suggested a more stringent entry requirement for medical courses," he said in a statement on Tuesday.
Dr Hisham said this in response to articles by The Star on the glut in medical graduates and poor performance among graduates from some medical schools abroad.
Recently, Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility (MPSRA) president Datuk Abdul Hamid Abdul Kadir said the Government must exert political will to delist foreign medical schools that did not meet standards as well as extend the moratorium on local schools.
There are 394 recognised foreign schools listed in the Second Schedule of the Medical Act 1971.
Universiti Malaya medical faculty dean Prof Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman said extending the moratorium on new medical courses was not enough and an independent task force was needed to address the issue.
Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr Ashok Zachariah Philip had pointed out that too many interests were pulling in different directions and the task force was needed to pull all parties together to address the issue in the best interest of the nation.
These comments follow Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam's announcement that moratorium on new medical courses and institutions, imposed by the Government in 2011, may continue for at least another five years.
Dr Hisham, who is also the health director-general, said MMC was able to monitor whether local universities have taken students without minimal qualifications through the periodic accreditation visits to all the universities which it conducts on behalf of the Malaysian Qualification Agency (MQA), a government agency tasked with ensuring quality assurance of higher education.
"The MQA would take the necessary action if the accreditation panels from MMC find any issues with minimal entry qualifications.
"MMC, however, did not have the authority to regulate entry into medical courses in universities overseas," he said.
In the past, students who wish to pursue medical courses overseas were required to take a "No Objection Certificate (NOC)" from the Higher Education Ministry and the issuance of such certificates would be based on the students having the same minimal entry qualifications as stipulated for entry to local universities, he explained.
Many of the foreign universities had ignored the certificate and taken students with lesser qualifications or they have circumvented the requirement by conducting their own foundation courses, he said.
Dr Hisham said the foundation programmes, many of dubious standards, were supposed to prepare students with lesser qualifications to pursue medicine.
The current provisions of the Medical Act 1971 require a person to be employed in a resident medical capacity before he is given provisional registration and this had created a major challenge for the Health Ministry to find posts for the increasing number of graduates, he added.