Malaysia to review and shorten list of recognised foreign medical schools

PETALING JAYA - The current list of recognised foreign medical schools is expected to be reviewed and shortened to ensure that Malaysian medical students who graduate from these schools are of a satisfactory standard.

The Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) is planning on shortening the list of recognised foreign medical schools and carrying out re-accreditation exercises every three to five years.

A source who revealed this said since the proposed amendment to the Medical Act 1971 that compelled all foreign medical graduates to sit for a medical qualifying was rejected by the Government in June, the MMC was now looking at other ways to ensure that medical graduates were of satisfactory standard.

"Colleges that fall short of the standards will be reviewed," he told The Star.

According to the health deputy director-general (medical) Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, there are currently 366 recognised medical degrees in 14 countries.

"We are trying to reduce that figure," he said, citing quality concerns.

"The recognition (for foreign degrees) was given years ago and we don't know if the quality has gone up or down.

"If the quality has gone down, we obviously have to ask if they still comply to our standard of nurses, doctors and allied health professionals," he said.

After rejecting the qualifying exam for all foreign medical graduates, the Government imposed a five-year moratorium on new medical courses and decided to increase the housemanship period.

Meanwhile, Dr Noor Hisham witnessed a signing of a memorandum of understanding between the ministry and several private colleges and universities here yesterday.

With the memorandum, the ministry will allow the higher learning institutions to train their medical, pharmaceutical, nursing and allied health sciences students in various government hospitals.

The source said MMC had discussed steps be taken to identify the number of foreign universities in the Second Schedule of the Medical Act that were still actively teaching Malaysian students so they could be retained.

Currently, only graduates from unrecognised universities are required to sit for a medical qualifying examination.

Last November, The Star carried a front page and subsequent reports on the lack of training hospitals to meet the influx of housemen and doctors' concern over housemen from some countries who lacked core medical knowledge.

Since the re-accreditation would be an extensive undertaking, the source said they hoped to negotiate with the medical schools concerned to bear the cost of the accreditation process.