A former dean at Universiti Malaya’s (UM) medical faculty has raised the alarm over the issue of brain drain among medical graduates in the country due to a lack of posts and clear training.
In a tweet by Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman, she wrote that UM loses 30 of its “best and brightest” graduates to Singapore every year.
She attributed it to a lack of opportunities in Malaysia, where it has forced those in the medical fraternity to look for ‘greener pastures’ overseas – an exodus which has hamstrung the public healthcare system.
Adeeba’s tweet was in response to an article by CodeBlue, where it called upon hospitals not to leave everything to the emergency department (ED) alone to handle.
The article also reported that critically ill patients, including those on ventilators, were left to fend for themselves for six days at Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital’s (HRPB) emergency department due to a shortage of beds and staff.
‘We’re losing our best’
Adeeba highlighted the high cost the government has to bear in training medical students, where each costs around RM1 million.
She also lamented over the fact that Malaysia was content with letting its best and brightest minds aid healthcare systems in other countries such as the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).
I don’t blame my young colleagues at all. I too would go where the opportunities are. We are failing them. How can we expect to build a resilient and world class health system when we have this continuous internal and external brain drain?
“We will continue to have this problem forever, until we are serious about addressing the health care workers’ issues in Malaysia – doctors, nurses and allied health professionals,” she wrote.
Read her tweet here:
I don’t blame my young colleagues at all. I too would go where the opportunities are. We are failing them. How can we expect to build a resilient and world class health system when we have this continuous internal and external brain drain? And then there’s the nurses….— Adeeba Kamarulzaman (@ProfAdeeba) December 22, 2022
A never-ending problem
Malaysia’s healthcare system has long been plagued with multiple problems, such as rampant bullying in the workplace and uncertainty among medical officers (MO) and contract doctors in securing a permanent position.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the situation was so dire to the point where MOs across Malaysia went on strike known as #HartalDoktorKontrak to demand for better working conditions, benefits, and career pathways.
In response to claims of junior doctors being verbally and emotionally abused by their seniors, Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr Koh Kar Chai said that it was normal to experience such harsh treatment.