Dr Michael Devaraj in FMT
KUALA LUMPUR: The amendment to the Medical Act is likely to be a licence for private medical colleges to churn out poor quality doctors.
Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar said the amendment will erode the quality of doctors in the country as private colleges would not put education over profits.
And, in an effort to stop the medical profession from being diluted, Jeyakumar mooted a motion to set up a parliamentary select committee to discuss the Medical (Amendment) Bill 2012.
However, the motion was promptly shot down by the Speaker and the Bill was later passed.
“This Bill does not really cover the issue of quality of doctors, which is exactly the original intent of the Act: to ensure that we have quality doctors, ” Jeyakumar told reporters at Parliament lobby.
He said the issue was all the more important to discuss now since there are now 33 universities and colleges awarding medical degrees, with 22 of them being private institutions. In comparison, there were only three government-owned universities in 1971.
“But with this new amendment, the power of the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) to regulate medical education in Malaysia has been diluted further,” he said.
He said that when the Bill to amend the Medical Act was first tabled last Monday, it seemed to be strengthening the powers of the MMC, but a subsequent amendment on Tuesday stripped those powers.
“The Health Ministry and the Higher Education Ministry seem to be having a tussle over the responsibility to regulate medical education in Malaysia. A turf war! It looks as though the Health Ministry has lost the tussle,” he said.
“It appears to me that the power of the MMC to recognise and accredit medical training colleges has been taken away and placed under a committee under the purview of the Higher Education Ministry… the MMC’s function has been reduced to a clerical role,” he added.
He said that the amendment takes away MMC’s independent role that supposedly complements that of the Malaysian Qualifications Agency.
Explaining further why the issue was important, Jeyakumar said that UK, with a 67 million population, has only 32 medical colleges while Malaysia’s 27 million population has 33.
Five years ago, the country had 1,200 housemen but the numbers has increased to 3,500 and the glut has caused houseman training to be compromised.
“Today, what safeguards do we have that these giant corporate colleges do not influence the decision-making process of the regulators with megabucks? We know that these regulatory bodies also employ senior people to be in their board… so when the approvals are given, would they be given fairly?”