Solving housemanship issue

Deputy Health Minister Dr.Lee Boon Chye (middle) mingling with the blood donors during the blood donation campaign held at Aeon Station 18

IPOH: The Health Ministry is hoping that medical graduates will get their housemanship placement within six months by next year, says Dr Lee Boon Chye.

The deputy minister said fresh graduates currently had to wait for a year or longer to get into the two-year training programme at government hospitals.

Dr Lee said a series of discussions was being held with the Public Service Department (PSD) to see how best to overcome the issue.

They are working towards placing medical graduates as house officers within six months by next year, he added.

“In the long term, we hope to see them getting to start their training in less than three months upon graduation.

“Ideally, it should not be more than three months. That is the ministry’s target, ” he told reporters after launching a blood and organ donation pledge campaign at a mall here yesterday.

The event was organised by the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital’s Board of Visitors.

Dr Lee also said the ministry was in discussion with the PSD to come up with a more transparent system on who qualified for permanent or contract appointments.

“Right now, after the two-year housemanship, the medical officers are either made permanent or hired on a contract basis.

“Those in the latter group carry out work like the permanent staff but are on a lower grade and earn less. Discussions are underway and we hope for a better outcome to resolve some of the issues, ” he added.

According to reports, contract doctors feel that they are being sidelined, given less pay and shuffled from one facility to another while being deprived of the opportunity to specialise.

Malaysian Medics International chairman Dr SS Vikkineshwaran had said that many house officers who worked hard and performed well did not get a permanent doctor’s post after their internship, causing them to be frustrated and lose hope.

On another matter, Dr Lee said the health effects of vaping outweighed the economic contribution of the industry.

“The fact remains that vaping is harmful, though how much harm vaping could cause varies from one study to another.

“We also know that the vaping industry is big and Malaysia is among the top five producers.

“But to the ministry, the health aspect is of the utmost importance, ” he said.

Dr Lee was asked about Kapar MP Datuk Abdullah Sani Abdul Hamid’s request to the ministry to halt the implementation of the smoking ban at open-air eateries on Jan 1 until proper regulations were in place for the vape industry.

The lawmaker urged the ministry to come up with a win-win solution and enact proper regulations for some 5,000 vape operators who could potentially contribute to the economy.

Dr Lee added that many non-smoking youngsters had picked up nicotine addiction because of vaping.

“Without realising it, after some time they would become addicted to nicotine, and it would become a long-term problem, ” he said.

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