Regardless Of ‘Noble Cause’, Follow The Law For Specialist Training — Dr Dayang Anita Abdul Aziz

Dr Dayang Anita, responding to MATCVS, says the NSR aims to safeguard the quality of all specialists in Malaysia, not just those in MOH. “There can be no exemptions; otherwise the NSR will not gain the trust of the rakyat, nor the international community”.

Thank you, CodeBlue, for allowing me to respond to a letter from the president of the Malaysian Association for Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery (MATCVS), who happens to be Head of the Cardiothoracic Service of the Ministry of Health (MOH).

The letter is vile, toxic, and personal. I am aware that the letter was not representative of members of MATCVS.

I am going to keep to the facts. I do not have any malicious intent. The comments I made were those of a concerned citizen and professional who has worked in both the service-orientated (MOH), as well as academic (MOHE) sectors. I have the knowledge and experience on how to start a postgraduate clinical programme according to the law.

My opposition to the proposed Medical Act amendment is not because I have my own agenda to promote my programme or to create a new pathway. I am not opposing the parallel pathway, nor am I to be seen as an opponent of the parallel pathway because I was in the University.

My opposition is to the double standards and gross neglect of the laws by a Ministry that misuses a “noble cause” as a reason to flout the law.

Whatever “noble cause” one may have to start a programme and to produce specialists for our country, one must follow the law.

The registry we are talking about is the National Specialist Register (NSR) that aims to safeguard the quality and standards of all specialists in this country, not just those serving the MOH.

The standards to enter into this register must be the same for all specialists, according to the specifications of their specialties and according to the law. The fact that the Medical Act has to be amended shows that the parallel programme qualifications do not comply with the law.

As stated, in the parallel pathway, the proposal was presented to the “Jawatankuasa” that is also implementing the training programme. In our country, this is far from being correct and legal, both from the provider and quality requirement.

Depending on a June 2021 press statement issued by the President of MMC (who was also the DG of MOH) – which exempted MOH programmes from following the MQA Act – is also wrong.

The parallel pathway was in existence since 2014. The amendment to the Medical Act to introduce the NSR was in 2012. The clauses in Section 14 are clear. Why choose to be above the law based on a press statement?

The Medical Act 1971 (amendment 2012) and the MQA Act – which is quoted in the Medical Act – apply to all and every programme. There can be no exemptions; otherwise the National Specialist Register will not gain the trust of the rakyat, nor the international community.

If an amendment is to be made to the Medical Act, separate the powers between the DG of MOH and President of MMC. As it stands, there are conflicts in the terms of reference of the DG of MOH in increasing the number of specialists and the need to best regulate and uphold the law by the President of MMC. Follow the practice of other professional bodies.

There is great scope for the profession to come together to work in the interest of the people. The Conjoined Specialty Committees that have been in existence since the 1980s for overseeing the implementation of the Masters programmes can be a great way for universities, the Ministry of Health, and the profession, as represented by the Academy of Medicine of Malaysia to further enhance synergistic collaboration and cooperation to improve the quality as well as smooth running of the programmes.

Together, we can meet the specialist requirement for the country.

Dr Dayang Anita Abdul Aziz is a senior consultant paediatric surgeon who retired as a Professor of Paediatric Surgery from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).

• This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.

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