Compulsory service : soon to be a relic

It was recently reported that the MOH is planning to reduce the number of years of compulsory service to 2. This authoritarian rule has the noble intention of forcing doctors to serve in busy government hospitals and clinics upon graduation. Mind you, during this period the working conditions are appalling and the pay is a mere pittance. Things have improved somewhat over the last decade with the number of doctors increasing and the pay scale much more appealing than it was years ago. It was forecasted that by 2020, there may be even more doctors than there are available positions.

Soon there will be jostling for positions even in rural Government clinics as the positions become saturated and increasingly competitive in an open market. There will no longer be any need for compulsory service as any available positions will be a blessing in itself. As the cost of medical care increases, more patients will flock to public hospitals hoping to pay only a fraction of the amount. As healthcare expenditure rises, the Government can no longer maintain the current subsidisation strategy, and privatisation becomes inevitable. Retrenchments will then become a surreal reality for doctors as many will have to look elsewhere to ply their trade.

Doctors in Malaysia have never had to worry about jobs as the demand for doctors currently still outstrips its supply. However, the number of doctors under the purview of MOH is increasing exponentially as evident from the number of housemen flooding in from the 28 local medical schools and those from foreign universities. With a declining birth rate, we will soon race past the 1:600 doctor to patient ratio.

So why do you think the MOH is keen to shorten the duration of compulsory service? Their reason of appreciating those that have long been in service appear distant and unrelated. Surely the expense needed to maintain a bulkier service is not ideal for a country with a shrinking budget. They are well aware of the fact that many choose to leave upon completion of their Government service. So what is the motive for the reduction in years of compulsory service? You make the deductions.

Indeed the clock has already started ticking. Soon fresh graduates will be clamoring for that one position in rural Sabah.

Link to article here.

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