Call on the Health Minister Datuk Subramanian to take effective and immediate steps to address the issues of oversupply of doctors
The issues of oversupply of doctors, the limited places for houseman-ship, the quality of compulsory houseman-ship training have been raised a few years ago by several parties, including the Opposition and Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).
In 2010, then MCA president and former Health Minister Datuk Seri Chua Soi Lek had also said that there will be an oversupply of doctors in 5 to 6 years time.
The cause of the oversupply is obvious and has been stated by the MAA in 2013. In November 2013, MMA) president Datuk Dr N.K.S. Tharmaseelan had commented that “ Malaysia has roughly 40 private medical colleges and 375 recognised colleges overseas, and each year about 5,000 medical students graduate — “…the highest number in Malaysian history”.
So the nation is having the oversupply due to the high number of local and foreign graduates being produced each year.
One of the measures already taken by the government was the moratorium on medical courses but this is an insufficient measure as the main cause is the existing number of medical schools.
In 2010, then Penang Gerakan chief Datuk Teng Hock Nam had revealed that Britain which had a population of 61 million had 26medical colleges, and Canada with a population of 34million had 17 medical colleges.
But Malaysia which has a population of 27 million has 24 medical colleges.
I had raised this problem of too many medical colleges in 2010 and in response, then MAA president Dr David Quek had expressed concern that the hundreds of house officers (or housemen) who throng major urban hospitals share the same patients and duties.
Dr David was quoted to say: “What is worse, they have lesser personal time with their trainers, registrars, clinical specialists and consultants.”
The issues raised should have been given the utmost and urgent attention with effective short, medium and long term measures being drawn up/implemented. Yet till today, the government does not seem to have come up with effective solutions.
As a result of the oversupply, new medical graduates now have to wait for six to eight months before being offered housemanship training.
In the Star today, it was reported that Dr Tan Guo Jeng of Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahmah (Klang) said that a six to eight months wait for housemanship was too long and those who did not want to wait had taken up offers from Singapore.
He said Singapore identified the students and gave them provisional offers even before they graduate and last year alone, Malaysia lost 50 to 60 of its Universiti Malaya and Universiti Kebanagsaan Malaysia graduates to Singapore.
So there is now the additional problem of brain drain. With the oversupply issue not effectively resolved, the day will come when the nation’s doctors will be jobless.
I call on the Health Minister Datuk Subramanian to take effective and immediate steps to address the issues of oversupply of doctors.