It is quite generally known that Malaysia does not have sufficient doctors, but the figure revealed by the Ministry of Health yesterday is quite disturbing.
The country is currently short of 9,000 doctors and specialists, especially in the 3 distinguished fields – pharmacy, dentistry and surgery. The number makes up 40% of the vacancy in the government hospitals, clinics and private health centers.
Over the last five years, more than 100 doctors and specialists serving and working in overseas have returned to work with the government and fill up vacancies in the pharmacology, dentistry and surgery fields. However, the small number is not yet sufficient to cater the need of the rising number of patients locally.
The most challenging part in attracting Malaysian doctors working abroad to come back is the salary and wage. Other countries like United States, Australia and United Kingdom are able to give very attractive salary package, and with the high buying power of the currency and a relatively balanced standard of living, doctors are financially well off, unlike many of the local doctors.
The government has recently announced a pay hike for doctors, in an effort to woo Malaysian doctors and graduating medical students coming back to serve their country.
The result of the shortage of doctors is mostly felt by the houseman officers (HO), who often find themselves working like zombies. The housemanship is the period where the soon-to-be medical officers are “trained” to become an accomplished doctors. The period lasts between 1-2 years. At times, HOs are made to work on-call and continued with a day of post-call duty. If the previous night was busy, that would mean the doctor works more than 24 hours with little break.
No wonder some of them came down with severe depression and some even tried to jump from building and take their own life. (Image: Wired.com)