Malaysia urgently needs to address the brain drain issue among medical graduates, said the former dean of the Faculty of Medicine and professor of infectious diseases at Universiti Malaya (UM), Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman.
In a series of tweet, Dr Adeeba said that UM loses 30 of its ‘best and brightest’ graduates to Singapore every year due to the lack of opportunities in the country.
She said that these graduates were then forced to look abroad for employment and ultimately affecting the country’s public healthcare system.
Dr Adeeba’s tweet was responding to an article by CodeBlue, which called on hospitals not to leave everything to the emergency department (ED) alone to handle. The article reported that critically ill patients, including ventilated cases, were left stranded for up to six days in Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital’s (HRPB) emergency department due to a shortage of beds and staff.
We will continue to have this problem forever, until we are serious about addressing the health care workers’ issues in 🇲🇾 – doctors, nurses and allied health professionals. For a start we can perhaps look at urgently plugging the brain drain of fresh medical graduates and MOs; https://t.co/322A4tFsuW— Adeeba Kamarulzaman (@ProfAdeeba) December 22, 2022
Meanwhile, Dr Adeeba said that it costs the government RM1 million to train a medical student, only for them to look for opportunities elsewhere.
“Now, we are also apparently going to help plug the National Health Service (NHS) shortage (in the UK) by also sending our medical officers to the UK,” she said.
However, Dr Adeeba said she does not blame the young colleagues as even her, too, would choose to go to places 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?” she lamented.
“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.”
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
Malaysia’s healthcare system plagued with multiple problems
Recently, the Healthcare Work Culture Improvement Task Force, under the Ministry of Health (MOH), conducted a survey involving some 100,000 staff members in the country.
According to the survey, it was found that the lack of human resources and infrastructure are among the main issues, followed by ‘varying levels’ of burnout and bullying in public healthcare facilities.
In addition, the lack of efficiency, skills, and preparation for the work that the employees had been assigned also contributed to the incidents of burnout and bullying.
The Malaysian Medical Association also acknowledged that the bullying culture exists in the public healthcare sector and that the issue had worsened the peak of the Covid-19 crisis, to a point where junior medical officers across Malaysia went on strike known as #HartalDoktorKontrak.