WE refer to the letter "Junior doctors in need of help" (The Star, Oct 12; online at https://bit.ly/3lHpalf).
Our views are as follows:
1. The parents concerned should bravely work together with parents of other medical officers (MOs) facing similar problems and bring the matter publicly to the attention of the Health Minister. We suggest they either write to Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin or to their own Members of Parliament, such as Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong or Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon, who are very experienced in solving many social issues faced by all communities. We understand the hesitance of parents/MOs to come out openly because of a clause in their contracts of employment. We view this clause as oppressive and against human rights. This said clause should be deleted from any employment contract.
2. On Sept 16 in Sibu in the presence of SUPP leaders, the Health Minister, after reading letters of appeal from parents and a letter of support from the Chief Minister of Sarawak, assured Sarawakian MOs that "All considered done. Please ask the parents not to worry." However, to the best of our knowledge, the Sarawakian MOs who had passed part of their postgraduate examinations are still waiting for their permanent posts.
3. The Health Ministry has been attributing the present predicaments faced by MOs on contract to a large surplus of doctors. With due respect, this is only one of the reasons causing the glut of doctors. We deeply regret and are very disappointed that the ministry and Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) have not come out with any other proposal or new policy to solve the problems caused by the oversupply of doctors.
The SUPP Education Bureau would like to propose the following:
a. The Ministry and MMC must have political courage to drastically limit the number of medical students each year as soon as possible and to raise a much higher minimum entrance requirement to read medicine. MMC bears the professional duty to advise the minister on new policies that will reduce the oversupply of doctors urgently.
b. The Ministry and MMC must introduce a common professional examination like the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) for all doctors irrespective of whether they are graduates from local or overseas medical schools.
All medical graduates must sit for the licensing examination before being posted to hospitals for their housemanship.
c. The Ministry must also disclose the criteria of offering permanent posts to MOs on contract. We have repeated this demand many times but it seems to have fallen on deaf ears.
d. It is an undisputed fact that Malaysia seriously lacks medical specialists, particularly in the rural areas of Sarawak. Ministry must seriously start training competent MOs so that in 10 years time, Malaysia will have no serious shortage of medical specialists.
As such, we are of the strong view that the ministry must implement its own directive dated Feb 16,2016, which clearly stipulates that priorities will be given to those MOs who have passed Part 1 or Part A of the parallel pathways, such as MRCP (physician), MRCPCH (paediatrics), MRCOG (obstetrics & gynaecology), MRCS (surgery) and etc.
DATUK DING KUONG HIING
Chairman, SUPP (Sarawak United Peoples' Party) Education Bureau
Assemblyman for Meradong, Sarawak
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