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KUALA LUMPUR: The robust number of medical universities and faculties in the country could cater to the majority of Malaysians seeking careers in the medical field.
As such, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai feels Public Service Department (PSD) medical scholarships to non-Ivy League universities should be halted.
He said there were many universities here which were well equipped to educate a new generation of doctors.
“The ministry submitted its recommendations to PSD last month. How the scholarships are distributed to medical students is up to them,” he told the New Straits Times.
He said if the ministry’s recommendations were adopted, only those who qualified for Ivy League universities abroad would get PSD scholarships.
“Those (Ivy-League) universities only accept the best of students. Malaysians who are offered courses in these institutions should be given the chance to go there.”
In recent months, the government had introduced initiatives to ensure the quality of medical practitioners, following a sudden drop in standards of service owing to the growing number of doctors.
According to Liow, there were more than 30,000 doctors in the country, putting the doctor-to-patient ratio at about 1:800.
The ministry was also on track to achieving a ratio of 1:600 by 2015.
“But even so, it does not mean we are going to stop training doctors altogether when we achieve that target. It is an ongoing process, doctors who started before will move on to become specialists and a new line of doctors will emerge.”
Liow said the Health and Higher Education Ministries were working closely together to maintain quality among existing doctors and also medical students.
A Higher Education Ministry source told the NST that many doctors-in-training were unable to undergo their practicals in some foreign countries because of cultural differences. The source said some citizens in these countries were hesitant or had refused to be examined by foreign doctors.
“They seem to only trust their doctors and not foreigners. It is a fair request on their part, but our students will not be able to learn if they do not do their practical.”
Because of this, upon returning, their skills failed to reflect their qualifications due to little or no hands-on experience.
This was reflected in several reports by medical officers, who said some housemen, who graduated from these foreign countries, under their tutelage “cannot work” and “have no practical knowledge at all”.
The source said the authorities were reviewing the decision to send medical students to these countries.