MMA: What sort of doctors are we producing?
The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) expressed concern that the hundreds of house officers (or housemen) who throng major urban hospitals share the same patients and duties.
“What is worse, they have lesser personal time with their trainers, registrars, clinical specialists and consultants,” said MMA president Dr David Quek, when contacted yesterday.
“What sort of doctors would we be producing? This is particularly worrisome, and it would be extremely difficult to train them all well when the glut seems to overflow the system.”
Dr Quek was responding to DAP national vice-chairperson M Kula Segaran (left), who had noted on Saturday that 24 medical colleges for a population of 27 million could be a major contributing factor for the projected oversupply of doctors in the next five years.
The Malaysian Medical Council's latest annual report states that the number of doctors (including 3,651 house officers) has hit 27,709.
According to the report, which the MMA cited, Malaysia is expected to produce 3,500- 5,000 medical graduates annually.
Based on an annual growth rate of 2.5 percent, the country may have 45,000-50,000 doctors for a population of about 32 million to 35 million people.
If the over-supply continues, there could be a staggering 75,000-80,000 doctors by 2020.
Worry over 'diploma mills'
Dr Quek (right) said Malaysia should not emulate countries such as the Philippines, which are exporting trained doctors as re-trained allied health paramedics, as this is a huge waste of money and resources.
He drew a comparison with the legal profession which had around 10,000 registered lawyers about 10 years ago; this year the figure is a mere 14,000.
“Why are we mass-producing doctors with no end in sight, and undermining our hitherto much-vaunted profession?” he queried.
“Our diploma mills unfortunately might then begin to shortchange our uninformed citizens and parents, who relentlessly continue to push their children to enter such a profession, which cannot guarantee their employability at such enormous costs and borrowing.”
Dr Quek, however, noted that Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai is mulling the possibility of imposing a moratorium on private medical colleges following MMA's concerns about a possible glut in poorly trained doctors within the next decade.
Two weeks ago, at the MMA's 50th annual general meeting, Liow said a moratorium is necessary to allow the government to produce quality doctors.
He said there are currently 31,273 registered doctors nationwide with the government focusing on achieving a ratio of 1:600 by 2015.