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Malaysia: Moratorium on Medical Schools

The Malaysian government has imposed a five-year moratorium on medical programs across the country, with the aim of shifting the focus from quantity to quality as the number of medical graduates increase every year.

Pagalavan Letchumanan believes that imposing a moratorium alone will not be enough.

The current existing schools are just too many and they will keep increasing the number of students to make more money. Thus the number of graduates will continue to rise… I think it is important, especially for parents that medicine is not a guaranteed life anymore in the next 2-3 years time. I really hope parents and students will stop thinking about glorified life by doing medicine.

Pilocarpine shares the same sentiments.

Reading through them, I could not help but to point out how inappropriate for the Paper to stressed the low quality of grads from Russia, Ukraine, Indonesia or India, because through my little years with these junior doctors, I had seen more than a handful of house officers graduated from those countries having more knowledge, initiative and participation than those from local unis. If those oversea medical schools were substandard from the beginning, how do they pass recognition from our esteemed board of higher learning?

Medicine Malaysia also believes that the moratorium is inadequate, and there needs to be a reform in the medical schools to increase the quality of graduates.

The accreditation process of medical schools needs to be stringent and a high benchmark should be set. Attracting academicians to our shores and keeping existing ones should have similar priorities. This is what we want to hear from the Honourable Health Minister. A 5 year moratorium is a knee jerk reflex to a problem which clearly needs more addressing.

Alex Tang however, is relieved that the problem of an oversupply of medical students has been acknowledged, although he feels that it is too late.

The 24 medical schools are already churning out graduates while there are many other students in overseas medical schools who will be graduating and coming home soon. The impending oversupply of doctors in Malaysia is going to be a reality soon. Yet I see parents everywhere in Malaysia urging their children to study medicine.

It is clear that this issue is not being met with support by most Malaysians, and many had even blamed the government for creating the problem in the first place. Blogger Dr Hsu expressed one such opinion.

The sudden mushrooming of medical schools are apparently due to shortages of doctors in the public sectors. This is because most doctors in government service resign after their compulsory services and opt for the supposedly greener pasture in the private sector.

In most other countries, the logical thing to do to counter this brain drain of doctors to private sector is to find out why doctors are resigning from government service and then try to address the woes of the doctors , and hopefully keep them in service. I call this common logic.

The Malaysian solution , like in many other instances, does not take common logic into account but rather uses the sledgehammer approach.

If the doctors do not want to stay in government service, then Malaysia shall flood the market with doctors, so goes the Malaysian logic. Never mind that setting up of medical schools and training doctors are expensive businesses.

If enough doctors are produced, the market will be saturated with doctors and thus doctors will have no where to go but to stay put in government service.

These come in light of the report in Malaysia's leading English newspaper The Star of the Government's decision to impose a five-year moratorium on medical schools.

Thumbnail used is from the Flickr page of Pacific Northwest USCG used under CC License Attribution 2.0 Generic

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