Sunday, February 28, 2016

Too many doctors, MOH may extend freeze on medical courses

The Ministry of Health (MOH) may extend the freeze on new medical courses and institutions of higher education offering such courses by another five years, in a bid to stem the glut of trainee doctors in the country. Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said this would be a continuation of the five-year moratorium imposed by the government in 2011 on new medical programmes in the country, and instead encourage existing medical schools to focus more on quality. He said this was necessary to curb the large influx of future doctors coming out from 32 local institutions, and more than 360 medical programmes in 36 countries including Myanmar, Czech Republic, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Russia and Ukraine. Out of the 4,140 medical graduates employed as house officers in 2015, 2,195 were from local universities while the remaining 1,945 from foreign universities. There were 4,991 graduates reporting for duty as housemen in 2013, 3,860 in 2014 and 4,140 last year. The figure was 3,564 in 2011, and 3,743 in 2012. "Every year, the Public Service Commission appoints between 3,500 and 5,000 medical graduates into the service. "On average, the accumulative number in Year 1 and Year 2 of training is between 9,500 and 10,300 HOs," Dr Noor Hisham told The Malaysian Insider. He said there were currently 10,835 house officer (HO) posts in 44 government hospitals nationwide. However, according to the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), about 20% of housemen take more than the stipulated two-year period to finish their training, causing a backlog in the number of available posts. As a result, hundreds of medical graduates are forced to wait up to six months or a year to get their houseman placings. The Malaysian Medical Council's (MMC) 2014 annual report shows several local institutions run more than one medical programme. Dr Noor Hisham (pic, left) said MOH was working towards having more trained specialist doctors, an issue raised by MMA president Dr Ashok Philip. Dr Ashok said the shortage of specialist doctors in public hospitals was caused by the departure of many for the private sector. He said it was important to increase the number of public health facilities. Dr Noor Hisham, who is also the MMC president, said MOH had increased the number of hospitals providing housemanship training from 38 in 2009 to 44 hospitals in 2015. He said there were the 46,916 registered doctors in 2014, with a doctor to population ratio of 1:633, which the government plans to bring down to 1:400 by 2020. – February 29, 2016.]]>

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