Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Star: Other ways to reduce medical grads... by Dr Abdul Hamid

Other ways to reduce medical grads
The Star, Views, Tuesday December 14, 2010

THE proposal to reduce the number of fresh medical graduates and improve the quality of their training in medical schools and in healthcare facilities are indeed welcome.

The Ministries of Higher Education and Health need to be commended for their quick response to on-going problems facing the medical schools; the large number of housemen and the delivery of a high standard of medical care at all levels.

However, certain points need to be further considered.

Firstly, a moratorium to stop local public and private medical schools from starting new programmes alone will not help if we continue to send students to pursue medical courses in foreign medical schools, where the quality of teaching and training is doubtful besides costing the Government millions of ringgit.

The Government must also impose a moratorium to stop sponsoring and sending students to foreign medical schools for a five-year period immediately, considering that we will not see the results of such a move for at least five years, which is the average duration of the medical course.

The Government should also limit the number of private students going to foreign medical schools through agents.

This may not be easy but the Government can enforce conditions so that this goal is achieved.

These measures are needed if we wish to see a reduction in the 4,000 fresh medical graduates from foreign and local schools, annually over the next five years.

Secondly, enrolment of more foreign doctors to train and supervise the increasing number of housemen is a futile exercise because the quality of such expatriate doctors and their ability to teach while also providing service in public hospitals are debatable.

It is well known that the large number of expatriate doctors already employed as teachers in local medical schools has created its own problems.

Thirdly, using district hospitals for houseman training as an interim solution is not acceptable as these hospitals will not, and do not, satisfy the basic criteria laid down by the Health Ministry and the universities for houseman training.

Even after such training in district hospitals, these housemen will still lack practical skills.

Our priority is to teach and train our own students in our country to become good housemen and good medical officers and specialists to serve our people.

Resources in teaching institutions, both public and private, should not be stretched thin to teach and train foreign students who will probably return to their homeland after graduation and not contribute to our national doctor — population ratio, which obviously seems to be the major concern of our policy makers.

Physicians for Social Responsibility Malaysia.

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