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Expose of unqualified doctors without clinical skills latest proof of unremitting crisis of higher education in Malaysia
The so-called “war of words” between the Health director-general Datuk Dr. Ismail Merican and the Higher Education Deputy Minister Datuk Fu Ah Kow is secondary to the bigger issue as to how the relevant authorities involving both Higher Education and Health Ministry officials had failed to maintain minimal standards of medical education in the public interest.
Yesterday, in a front-page exclusive “EXCUSE ME DOC, DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING - Medical colleges churning out sub-standard doctors with no clinical skills” by-lined Annie Freeda Cruez, New Straits Times quoted the Director-General of Health, Dr. Ismail Merican as acknowledging that private medical colleges are producing doctors who do not have the clinical skills to diagnose diseases as government hospitals were unable to accommodate the increasing number of students needing clinical training.
In a follow-up NST report today, headlined “Fu, Ismail have it out”, the Higher Education deputy minister, Datuk Fu Ah Kiow accused Dr. Ismail of making “sweeping statements” which could undermine public confidence in the competence of doctors on the whole.
Rebutting Dr. Ismail, Fu said senior members of the Health Ministry screened medical colleges before allowing them to operate and that colleges offering medical degrees would have to tie up with local hospitals in order for them to gain practical knowledge.
Fu said their syllabus is checked by the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC), which is chaired by Dr Ismail, and by academicians. Medical degrees are only given out when the college and the degrees are recognised by the MMC.
Fu said: “With this condition in place, I cannot understand why Dr Ismail has to say that the doctors produced are lacking in clinical skills."
Malaysians are not interested in the war of words and semantics between Fu and Ismail but how to safeguard the public interest by ensuring that our medical schools, whether public or private, produce qualified doctors and not unqualified ones.
Doctors who have no clinical skills to diagnose diseases are clearly incompetent, and there is no need for a war of semantics over it.
There can no argument that both the Higher Education and Health Ministry authorities must bear joint responsibility for the scandalous state of affairs where medical colleges are producing doctors without clinical skills and instead of conducting an unprofitable war of words, the public should be told the true state of affairs, pinpoint the persons or agencies responsible for the failure in maintaining minimal standards of medical education, and what immediate remedial measures are being taken to produce properly qualified doctors.
Finally, why is the Minister for Higher Education, Datuk Seri Shafie Salleh hiding behind his Deputy Minister on this latest scandal in Malaysian higher education instead of coming forward to bear full and proper responsibility and accountability!
Or will the scandal of unqualified doctors without clinical skills end up in a farce with the Ministers of Higher Education and Health “patching up” and “burying” their differences, claiming that it was “storm in a tea-cup” caused by a “miscommunication” and “misunderstanding” by their subordinates as a result of irresponsible media reporting?
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission