Call temporary halt to new medical programmes, urges analyst

Lim-Chee-HanKUALA LUMPUR: A think tank says the government should impose a moratorium on the number of accredited medical programmes offered by local private colleges and universities to address the shortage of housemanship training placements in the country.

The Penang Institute said today the overflow of demand in placements, which the government was unable to tackle, was due to the increase in such programmes offered at institutions here.

“The main driving force behind the increase in the number of medical students graduating from local private institutions is the sudden increase in the number of accredited medical programmes offered by these colleges and universities.

“Unfortunately, the demand for housemanship positions currently outstrips the supply of these positions in public hospitals,” senior analyst Lim Chee Han said at a press conference today.

According to Lim, the number of accredited local private institutions had shot up from zero to 18 in just over two decades.

He added that another nine programmes at private institutions were provisionally accredited as of 2015, according to the Malaysian Medical Council’s annual report for that year.

He claimed the number of medical graduates would continue to increase if the government did not limit the accredited medical programmes offered.

In 2014, he said, the shortfall between the supply and demand for housemanship positions reached an all-time high of 880, compared with 351 in 2012.

“To make up for this shortfall, the health ministry has to build more new hospitals and upgrade existing smaller hospitals.

“They also have to train more specialists who can then train the medical housemen. All of this requires long-term planning and management,” he said.

Lim said the shortfall in housemanship positions was further exacerbated by the declining graduation or “turnover” rates of existing housemen.

He said there had been a drop in the percentage of housemen who were supposed to complete their training within two years.

“The Medical Register records taken from housemen provisionally registered from 2008 to 2014 show that since 2009, the percentage of housemen who completed the housemanship programme within 24 months dropped from 84.6% in 2009 to 58.8% in 2014.

“It is known that of the dropouts in 2011, 59.1% were graduates from foreign medical institutions.

“Meanwhile, graduates from local public and private institutions had fairly similar dropout rates at 18.1% and 22.8% respectively,” he said.

This raised concerns regarding overseas graduates and whether they were competent enough to take up and overcome the challenges faced during housemanship training, he added.

Dr Abdul Jalil Nordin, who is dean of Universiti Putra Malaysia’s faculty of medicine and health sciences, recently highlighted the case of thousands of medical graduates still looking for housemanship placements.

“Last year, there was a long delay in giving placements to about 3,000 medical graduates. Even after six months, 1,000 more had not gotten their placements.

“And there are 3,000 more this year looking for placements,” he told FMT.


‘Give priority to absorbing local medical grads for housemanship’