Parallel pathway issue: Authority lies with MMC, not us, says Malaysian Qualifications Agency

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) says it is not directly involved in the controversy surrounding the registration of medical doctors who have obtained specialist qualifications through the “parallel pathway” training programme.

MQA chief executive officer Datuk Dr Mohammad Shatar Sabran said that the authority to accept or reject the registration and certification of medical practitioners, including medical specialists, lies with the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC).

“In the accreditation and recognition activities of medical institutions within the country, MQA collaborates with MMC. Hence, the issues that previously arose do not directly involve MQA.

"MQA only acts as a facilitator to help resolve related issues based on its jurisdiction and existing rules at this agency," he said when asked about issues involving the parallel pathway training programme.

The issue emerged after Malaysian graduates sent by the government to study cardiothoracic surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) were unable to practise in Malaysia as their qualifications were not accepted by the MMC.

One of the suggested solutions was for the specialists to undergo specialised training at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), the first university to offer a medical specialisation programme in collaboration with the National Heart Institute in the field of cardiothoracic surgery. This programme has been accredited jointly by MQA and MMC.

Mohammad Shatar added that as the main body regulating and accrediting higher education programs, MQA also cooperates with 22 professional bodies such as the Board of Architects Malaysia, Board of Engineers Malaysia, and the Malaysian Dental Council to implement programs in higher education institutions (HEIs) in the country, including cooperation with MMC.

“In this collaboration, MQA is responsible for ensuring compliance with quality based on the Malaysian Qualifications Framework, while professional bodies ensure compliance based on the standards they regulate, “ he added in a statement.

Mohammad Shatar said this cooperation also involves programmes offered from abroad that have partnerships with local HEIs.

“In the process, all participating institutions, whether domestic or international, must be legally established, and the programmes must be recognised in their home countries.

"The Higher Education Ministry (MOHE) and Health Ministry have already sought the best solutions to resolve this issue, and the results have been presented at a Cabinet meeting.

At MQA, we hope that this matter can be resolved promptly with the best method for all parties involved," he said.

On June 5, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said that amendments to the Medical Act 1971 (Act 50) have been proposed to resolve the parallel pathway issue and to streamline the process of recognition and registration as medical specialists.

"The Cabinet meeting has agreed in principle to this proposal. The bill for the amendments will be presented at the Second Meeting of the Third Session of the Fifteenth Parliament in 2024 after it is approved by the Cabinet," he said in a statement.

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