Glut of medical schools 3 : We have gone mad

Malaysia has a total of 39 medical schools. It has probably the highest ratio of medical schools to population. Probably only a handful of these medical schools are worth mentioning.

Doctors in Malaysia are experiencing deteriorating standards of medical graduates arriving at our hospitals. It is sometimes shocking to discover the level of knowledge in these new doctors.

Many of the new medical schools are struggling to gather a team of academic staff, often opting to appoint foreign lecturers, many of whom are oblivious to the local situation. As a result, Ministry of Health doctors are being roped in to teach these students.

Apart from trying to train the burgeoning number of housemen, commitment to teach medical students will surely strain the heavy service requirements in many of these government hospitals.

It is sad to know that despite the worries of incompetent doctors flooding our medical system, politicians have turned a blind eye to these problems. Instead, they are only focused on reaching a WHO standard of 1:600 ratio of doctor to population. We are currently purportedly at 1:900.

However this ratio is more complex than many think. Firstly, not all doctors are general practitioners, so many do not see the general population. So, one would expect the ratio to be much less if we are to discount all specialists.

Focusing on only achieving the ratio set by WHO by increasing the number of medical schools alone is like building castles on shifting sand. Instead we should be focusing on improving the standard of medical education and in turn, attract more talents to our shores. Once this is achieved, we can increase the capacity of existing medical schools in churning out quality graduates.

Otherwise, not only are newer medical schools poorly staffed, the ones that they have are also below par. This causes a vicious spiral of gradual destruction.

We should stop making knee jerk reactions to a particular problem and expect short term solutions. The process of building a developed nation takes a lot of planning and time. Sadly, our politicians lack foresight and patience.