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How many docs do we really need?
Published on: Sunday, February 26, 2017

By Dr Who
IT was indeed shocking to read that housemen, according to Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa, make up the highest number of civil servants who have been sacked.

The situation is even more mind-boggling considering the glut of housemen at the moment, with some having to wait for nine months before placement for house officer’s posts.

Surely, if there are so many housemen at the workplace, it should be less stressful because more hands make light work? This only leaves me to conclude that these housemen and medical officers who have been sacked were never cut out to be doctors in the first place.

Dr Ali further directed the Public Service Department and Health Ministry to resolve this issue as it tarnishes the professional reputation of medical practitioners and the image of the country which I think has already occurred.

In fact, the root cause of this problem is staring us in the face.

There are 34 public and private medical schools in Malaysia. Our neighbour Singapore has only three and Hong Kong has only two.

The mushrooming of medical schools in Malaysia is fuelled in part by the desire of many of our youths to become doctors.

Some may be genuine and, with proper guidance, have the potential to become good doctors.

Others may have been pressured against their will by their parents for financial reasons or prestige.

Nonetheless, many have an unrealistically glamorous view of the medical profession.

Some medical schools may have been set up for financial reasons. Let’s face it, the medical course is long and expensive but is in great demand.

With so many medical schools fighting for the same pool of students, naturally the entrance requirement has to be lowered, hence the quality of the eventual graduates. The available pool of medical teachers would also have to be spread very thinly across all these medical schools.

What needs to be done is clear. The moratorium on the setting up of new medical schools in Malaysia has to be strictly enforced.

The powers that be should not just pay lip service and bow to financial or political pressure.

Medical schools that are not viable should just be closed down and their undergraduates humanely and fairly re-located.

There needs to be proper manpower planning too.

How many doctors do we need to ensure adequate national healthcare coverage?

And how many do we need to replace the natural attrition of doctors through retirement, death and alternative employment?

Has anyone got the stomach or will to carry these out?

Dr Who

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