Saturday, June 12, 2010

Oversupply of doctors in 5 years

I gave a press conference at the Perak DAP HQ on the oversupply of doctors.

MCA president Datuk Seri Chua Soi Lek has recently said that there will be an over supply of doctors in 5 to 6 years time.

He said that Malaysia will be producing 4500 doctors each year beginning next year.

Hen added that the rate of growth would also see the current 30,000 doctors doubling to 55,000 or 60,000 five or six years from now.

An oversupply will mean that the new medical graduates will face the problem of getting their compulsory housemanship training.

Even if the graduates can all be placed in the public hospitals, the question that arises is whether they will obtain sufficient and quality training needed due to the high housemen to patient ratio?

When there is an over supply of doctors, where can the doctors find employment?

A doctor blogged in 2008 about the coming surplus of doctors and he said “already in some urban centres, we can see two to three general practitioner clinics in a single row of shop houses. The value of a medical degree will drop as doctors will be forced to find employment outside their field of training. When that day comes, it will be a sad day for doctors in Malaysia .”

I cannot imagine the parents’ heartaches when their children graduate to become jobless. I worry too about the lack of quality and adequate training that the new medical graduates will face.

The surplus of doctors is a serious problem but the Health Minister Dato Seri Liong Tiong Lai has yet to respond to what his Party President has claimed.

Is the government not concerned about this issue?

Actually, Liow did say in January 15 this year that there will be no surplus of doctors in the public sector by 2015 as there is still a shortage of between 14,000 and 15,000 doctors from the 25000 needed.

He explained that while some 3,000 new medical graduates enter the workforce yearly, an average of 300 to 400 doctors quit the public sector for greener pastures each year.

But his explanation actually supports the claim that there will be surplus of doctors in 5 years time.

With say 3500 new doctors being produced annually, the 15,000 shortage will be filled in 5 years. And Chua Soi Lek said 4500 doctors will be produced beginning next year!

Where will the new doctors go for their training when the vacancies have been filled? Where will doctors find employment?

In our tweeter exchanges a few days ago, Deputy Education Minister Dato Wee Ka Siong said that the students’ choice to do medicine must be respected.

I had rebutted such a claim by asking him whether he meant respecting the students choice and making them jobless in future.

Respecting the students’ choice is not an acceptable answer.

In fact, a few weeks ago, Penang Gerakan chief Datuk Teng Hock Nam had revealed that Britain which has a population of 61 million has 26medical colleges, and Canada with a population of 34million has 17 medical colleges.

But Malaysia which has a population of 27 million has 24 medical colleges.

Does not this mean that we have too many medical colleges and they are overproducing doctors?

I call on the Health Minister to treat this matter as urgent and inform the people what are the steps that the government will take to prevent our future doctors from becoming jobless.

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