Exodus

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Published: Monday August 2, 2010 MYT 5:05:00 PM

360 medical officers in public service resign each year
By ZULKIFLI ABD RAHMAN

KUALA LUMPUR: An average of 360 medical officers in public service have resigned yearly since 2005, Deputy Health Minister Datuk Rosnah Rashid Shirlin said.

She said the ministry was aware of the number of resignations and was doing its best to retain the officers through various initiatives, including increasing the number of medical, dentistry and pharmacy graduates in the public service.

“As a result, the number of medical graduates attached to the ministry is expected to increase to 3,793 this year compared to 3,702 last year.

“The number of such graduates was 1,124 in 2006,” she told Senator Pau Chiong Ung at the Dewan Negara here Monday.

Rosnah said for dentistry, the number of graduates was expected to increase to 210 this year from 149 in 2008, while the number of pharmascists would increase to 768 this year, from 719 in 2008.

She added the ministry was also providing career development opportunities for these officers and improving their incentives and allowances.

When will the Ministry of Health realise that increasing the number of graduates, hence more dubious and poorly trained doctors, will not solve the current woes of an exodus of skilled doctors from public service?

Providing career development opportunities have long been claimed but the move hardly trickles down to the ground. Although salaries have recently been improved, the lure of a more lucrative situation in private practise or overseas easily sways doctors away from public service. As monetary rewards can never be on par with private standards, the pull factor in public service has to be centered on other issues apart from just financial rewards. Why are doctors not satisfied with their jobs in public service?

The situation at the universities is even more dire. Not only is the renumeration not competitive, the additional workload with regards to the academia, is hardly rewarded or even recognised. Hence, universities are purged of their talented doctors and the remaining few are pressed to meet demands of clinical and research excellence.

Numbers can lie. Even if the ratio of doctor to population appears to improve, the situation is artificial. Instead, the quality of doctors will soon slide stunting Malaysia’s recognition overseas as a center of medical excellence. Yearly we lose bright young medical graduates to our tiny neighbour despite years of subsidised medical education and the tireless effort of our medical lecturers. Emigration of specialists to other countries is at an alarming rate.

Do we even care?

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