Make MMC Presidency Elected, Not Appointment To Health DG: MMA

MMA demands reforms to the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC), saying the presidency should be an elected position. Under the Medical Act, the Health DG is appointed MMC president. MMA also says 80% of MMC members should be elected; only half now are elected.

KUALA LUMPUR, April 4 — The Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) has come under growing political pressure, with the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) now demanding reform of the regulator of medical practice.

MMA, the largest doctors’ association in the country, urged Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad to review the Medical Act 1971 (Act 50) toward health care reform, starting with reforms to the MMC, besides looking at recognition of the parallel pathway for specialist training.

“The MMC president’s position should be decided by election, not through appointment,” MMA president Dr Azizan Abdul Aziz said in a statement.

“Likewise, the composition of the MMC council members should consist of at least 80 per cent elected representatives. 

“Furthermore, its voting system, which still uses postal ballots, is outdated and should be simplified through digitalisation, in line with the MOH’s (Ministry of Health) digital health transformation agenda. 

“Currently, the inconvenience to cast a ballot is discouraging the fraternity from voting with only 10 per cent voting from the close to 70,000 registered medical practitioners each time elections are held.”

Section 3A outlines the composition of the MMC, comprising 33 representatives from recognised local universities, the private sector, public services, and elected medical practitioners. This section also mandates that the Health director-general (DG) serve as president of the Council.

The Health DG oversees the public health service in the MOH; heading the MMC also means that he oversees the regulation of the practice of medicine in Malaysia across both the public and private sectors.

Out of the 33 MMC members, only 17 or just over half are elected, with the remaining 16 being appointed positions. The current MMC president is Health DG Dr Muhammad Radzi Abu Hassan.

Dzulkefly said in a statement last Monday that the MOH has proposed amendments to the Medical Act to resolve an imbroglio with MMC over the MOH’s parallel pathway training with overseas royal colleges.

The amendments, which the health minister did not specify, are pending Cabinet approval; Dzulkefly aims to table the amendment bill in the next parliamentary meeting in June.

The MMC’s refusal last December to approve National Specialist Register (NSR) registration applications by four pioneer graduates from the cardiothoracic surgery parallel pathway programme by the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) in the United Kingdom triggered a massive uproar among the medical fraternity.

MMC had claimed that it never recognised the Fellow of Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in Cardiothoracic Surgery, or FRCSEd qualification. 

The RCSEd’s open letter to Dzulkefly on the issue, as published by CodeBlue, subsequently led to the health minister holding meetings with Ambassador of Ireland to Malaysia, Orla Tunney, and UK Deputy High Commissioner David Wallace.

Under Health DG Dr Muhammad Radzi, the MMC also refused to register on the NSR six pathology graduates in medical genetics from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) on the basis that their postgraduate qualification was not recognised, leading to a judicial review application by the six that was granted leave by the High Court last January.

Kuala Langat MP Dr Ahmad Yunus Hairi, who is a member of the Health parliamentary special select committee (PSSC), said he has advised PSSC chairman Suhaizan Kayat to discuss the government’s proposed amendments to the Medical Act in the next PSSC meeting.

CodeBlue had asked him and Suhaizan – who is Pulai MP from Amanah, the same party as the health minister – whether the Health PSSC would seek to review the Medical Act amendment bill before it is debated in the full chambers of the Dewan Rakyat, similar to what was done with the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023.

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