KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10 — The government does not intend to form a separate medical council to regulate medical practice in Sarawak, as only six per cent of registered doctors nationwide work in the state.
Unlike the legal profession — which is self-regulated through three bodies in the peninsula, Sarawak, and Sabah — the medical profession in Malaysia, with a dual public-private health care system, does not practice self-regulation due to the presence of government representatives in the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC).
“Besides considering the practicality of having a separate organisation, the medical practitioners who serve in Sarawak comprise only six per cent of the total number of medical practitioners who have the APC (annual practicing certificate),” Health Minister Dr Adham Baba said in a written parliamentary reply on September 3 to Senator Robert Lau Hui Yew (SUPP).
“Thus, the Ministry does not intend to establish a separate organisation from the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) for Sarawak.”
Lau had asked the health minister at the Dewan Negara to state the government’s plans to establish a separate medical council for Sarawak — apart from the MMC that regulates medical practitioners nationwide — to register and regulate the medical profession in the state.
It is to be noted that the MMC, headed by president Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, who is also Health director-general at the Ministry of Health (MOH) — only has one representative from Sarawak and Sabah each.
The MMC consists of nine members from local medical schools and six private and public medical practitioners, appointed by the health minister. This means that out of 33 council member seats, the minister can choose 15 members using his or her discretion.
One seat has been allocated for the Health director-general, while 15 members from Peninsula Malaysia are voted in. The balance two council member seats have been allocated to one member from Sabah and Sarawak each respectively.
Sarawak Minister for Local Government and Housing Dr Sim Kui Hian, who is also GPS vice president and SUPP president, recently called on the government to form a separate medical council for Sarawak. He proposed that idea to overcome the issue of contract doctors in the state, as well as to address financial and infrastructure facilities in health care required by the state.
According to MOH, MMC is a federal statutory body that functions under the Medical Act 1971.
The functions of MMC are to:
- Register all medical practitioners.
- Regulate medical practice.
- Implement compulsory service with the government.
The registration process involves the registration of all medical practitioners across the public and private sectors in Malaysia, including medical officers and specialists.
“MMC also serves to conduct accreditation with the Medical Qualifying Agency (MQA), the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE), and the Ministry of Health (MOH) to set standards and criteria for enrolling in the medical undergraduate programme as well as specialisation programmes,” Dr Adham added.
MMC also uses set and updated guidelines to ensure Malaysian medical practice is at its best level and that medical practitioners have the highest level of ethics.
Peer review conducted by MMC to monitor medical practitioners consists of doctors from various backgrounds.
MMC also makes sure that medical practitioners perform their compulsory service with the government and that they receive clinical exposure to further their careers into specialisation.
Dr Adham also stated that MMC, which was established even before Independence, maintains a good relationship with regulatory bodies worldwide, especially Commonwealth countries, and is on par with the World Federation of Medical Education (WFME) and the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). MMC is also a member of the International Association of Medical Regulatory Authorities (IAMRA).