Friday, January 29, 2010

Bernama-Health Minister: No Surplus Of Doctors In Public Sector By 2015

No Surplus Of Doctors In Public Sector By 2015
Bernama, January 15, 2010 19:58 PM

PETALING JAYA, Jan 15 (Bernama) -- 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 25,000 needed, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

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.

Liow said that as at September last year, only 63.7 per cent of the 24,241 posts for medical doctors in the ministry were filled while only 58.5 per cent of 3,800 posts for specialists were taken.

"We view this situation seriously, so various efforts have been made, including cooperating closely with the Public Service Commission and Public Service Department to expedite filling the vacancies for doctors in the public sector," he told reporters at Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar), here, Friday.

He said the ministry would continue to find initiatives to improve the situation such as offering better incentives like promotion opportunities to keep doctors in the service.

He said considering that Malaysia was still a developing country, the fear of some quarters including professional bodies of a surplus of doctors by 2015 was not fully justified.

"As Malaysia advances and becomes increasingly developed, the ideal doctor to population ratio for the country will shift lower to accommodate the expected higher demand of the population for more personalised and better quality medical care.

"The doctor density will also need to increase to accommodate the increasing specialisation and sub-specialisation of medical practice," he added.

Liow said Malaysia was also expected to achieve the one doctor to 600 population ratio by 2015 from the existing 1:1,105, an improvement from 1:8,229 in 1957 when the nation gained independence.



Thanks to dranony, who pointed out that in a Bernama release, our Health Minister defends the claims of severe shortage of doctors in the nation:


He further gave figures on number of percentage of filled posts, and the number of doctors entering and leaving the government service each year.

Do the math -
63.7% of 24,241 MO posts filled
i.e. 36.3% of 24,241 MO posts vacant = 8800 MO vacancies
58.5% of 3,800 Specialist posts filled
i.e. 41.5% of 3,800 Specialist posts vacant = 1577 Specialist vacancies
Total vacancies = 8,800 + 1,577 = 10,377 vacancies.

3000 enter workforce annually, 300-400 leave annually.
(Let's assume average is 350)
Nett gain is 3,000 - 350 = 2,650 annually.

(*actually this number may rise even further to around 4,000 per year, if many are not frightened away by Datuk Murugiah's idiotic pronouncements on extending compulsory service to 5 or 10 years! The MOH estimates that some 3,300 would start of as HOs in the year 2010)

Therefore, solely going by these figures which the Minister had provided, in only four years, the nett gain in doctors to the medical civil service, will be 2,650 X 4 = 10,600.
Since there are only 10,377 vacancies (as of Sept 2009), this nett gain of 10,600 doctors over four years, would already have resulted in a surplus in 2014, NOT even 2015!

This is despite the Health Minister's claim that there will be no surplus in 2015.

Perhaps in a way, he is right - the surplus will instead occur in 2014, and NOT 2015.

Or is he basing his conclusion on figures other than that which he had provided himself during that very press conference?

My Comments (DQ):

During our dialogue with the Minister on 8 Jan 2010, Dato' Sri Liow maintains that there will be no surplus of doctors even by 2015. 

Even if we then have 50,000 or 60,000 it would be good for the nation! This is the perception of the MOH that we need more and more doctors to fill the chronic 'shortage' in the public service sector! Hence too, you can see the rationale of the ridiculously high number of medical schools (25 as of now) in the country with no limit as to how many medical graduates each is allowed to produce annually. 

We appear to be bent on simply churning out medical graduates as if a third world paper mill, with no long term plan as to what might happen in just a few short years, when the production would seriously exceed the demand, what then?? Quick knee jerk reactions, quick-fix approach which even now looks alarmingly catastrophic in the near term! God help us!

And what about adequacy of the teachers? the quality? the experience? the quality of the entry students? or is it simply the fees that matter??

Consider the fact that for the entire UK, only some 1,100 to 1,200 medical doctors graduate annually, and from such established and solid medical schools at that!! In fact many schools are merging to save on costs and efficiency as well as to consolidate teaching faculty and strength!

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