Malaysia: Government considers licensing exam for foreign medical graduates

In addition to being saddled with a backlog in housemanship placements for medical graduates, the Malaysian Health Ministry has to contend with deteriorating standards among graduates of foreign medical institutions.

To arrest this problem, the ministry is eyeing stringent licensing examinations to set a standard for doctors who want to practise in the country, whether educated in Malaysia or overseas.

Already, it has imposed a 5-year moratorium on local medical schools to control the large number of medical graduates. However, New Straits Times online writes, the moratorium does not extend to overseas medical schools.

The ministry has noted that poor performances in housemanship is one reason for the backlog. This delays the entry of new medical graduates into the programme because those who failed will have to undergo an extension, are holding up already very limited posts. Sub-par performance from foreign graduates further compounds the problem.

The Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility has recently asked the government to drop foreign medical schools with graduates that consistently fall below the standards. This is to address the high number of graduates awaiting housemanship in addition to the extended moratorium on local schools, according to a report of The Star Online.

Medical licensing through examination is already being practised in many countries, according to Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah. Countries practising licensure examination include United Kingdom and United States. Furthermore, he said, “these measures will ensure that all medical practitioners who wish to practice in Malaysia meet a certain standard.”

Dr Noor Hisham has said the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) is aware of the issues and is prepared to take measures to uphold the quality of medical graduates.

Among these measures, according to reports, is to remove universities listed in the second schedule of the Medical Act 1971 that are no longer responding to MMC contact attempts. This means that medical graduates of universities not included in the list will have to undergo a qualifying examination.



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