KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 24 — The nationwide lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic has lengthened the waiting period for the housemanship placement of medical graduates, Dr Adham Baba said.
According to the health minister, the current waiting period for medical graduates to get their training placement is between eight and nine months.
“There was an increase in the waiting period for medical graduates during the Covid-19 pandemic, which caused the recruitment process to be postponed during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period,” Dr Adham told the Dewan Negara in his written parliamentary reply on September 15.
A strict MCO was imposed nationwide for seven weeks from March to May. Malaysia now is currently under the Recovery Movement Control Order that is scheduled till year end.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) provides placement to fresh medical graduates six times a year, whereby for this year, five batches of medical graduates have already been given their placement according to the list below:
- First intake on February 3: 740 medical graduates
- Second intake on March 16: 915 medical graduates
- Third intake on July 20: 1,071 medical graduates
- Fourth intake on August 24: 950 medical graduates
- Fifth intake on September 2: 907 medical graduates
Dr Adham also said that 635 medical graduates who have passed their Public Service Commission (PSC) screening are still waiting for their placement.
“They will be offered an appointment for this year’s sixth intake session scheduled for October 26, subject to vacancies of existing graduate training slots,” Dr Adham said.
Senator Suresh Singh (DAP) had asked the health minister to state the number of pharmacy and medical graduates that have not been given a placement as of July this year and the measures taken by the government to speed up the process.
In his written parliamentary reply, Dr Adham listed the various measures taken by MOH to shorten the waiting period for medical graduates to get their placement for their housemanship training, which includes adding 10 more graduate training hospitals from 2009 (38 hospitals) to 2019 (48 hospitals).
On top of that, MOH has also worked with a consortium of public university hospitals to increase graduate training programme slots at university hospitals to 950 slots, such as in University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC), Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (HUKM), Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia (HUSM).
Furthermore, Dr Adham highlighted that MOH has managed to increase the graduate training slots from 10,835 slots in 2013 to 12,153 currently.
Besides the measures mentioned above, Dr Adham said that the government, through the Ministry of Higher Education, has implemented a moratorium on the offering of new medical courses at institutions of higher learning nationwide from 2011 to 2021, and has applied for an additional five-year extension of the moratorium until 2026.
The moratorium covers three aspects: no addition of new medical colleges or universities, no addition to new medical programmes, and no increase in the quota of medical students.
Dr Adham also told Senator Suresh that there are currently no pharmacy graduates who are waiting for their placement.
“No pharmacy graduates are currently waiting for placement as all 208 individuals who passed the PSC screening until July 31 have been appointed,” Dr Adham said.
Senator Teo Eng Tee (Gerakan) separately asked MOH to state the number of medical graduates waiting for housemanship placement until July 2020. He also raised a question on the adequacy of medical officers in the public health facilities.
“As of June 30, there are a total of 33,536 permanent medical officers, serving in the Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH),” Dr Adham told the Dewan Negara in his written parliamentary reply on September 21.
“Overall, Malaysia is in need to increase the number of doctors in the public sector to meet the current and future health service needs,” he added.
At the same time, it is also in line with the government’s aim to provide doctors access to specialist training in order to ensure that health services, particularly specialisation fields, are enhanced and competitive with developed countries, according to the health minister.
Last month in a Dewan Rakyat reply, Dr Adham said many house officers were not able to complete their training within the two years as some needed to extend their training due to reasons including maternity leave, sick leave, health problems, or extension in training due to competency issues.
He also said that an additional six more hospitals are in the process of implementing the housemanship programme within the next two years.