“UM loses 30 top medical graduates to Singapore each year,” says Dr Adeeba

AT least 30 of the “best and brightest” medical graduates from Universiti Malaya (UM) leave for Singapore due to the unresolved healthcare worker issues at home, said UM medical faculty former dean Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman. 

Taking to Twitter, Dr Adeeba said there is urgent need for the government to take grouses of work conditions of healthcare workers seriously to plug brain drain of medical officers and graduates in the country in order to improve the public healthcare system. 

She noted that there was a lack of posts and clear training pathways for doctors, nurses and other health professionals, forcing them to look abroad for employment or better opportunities. 

“Each year, UM loses at least 30 of our best and brightest to Singapore. Remember, it costs us almost RM1 mil per student to train,” she lamented in a post. 

“And now, we are also apparently going to help plug the [UK’s] National Health Service’s (NHS) shortage by also sending our medical officers to the UK. 

“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?”  

Dr Adeeba was responding to an article published on health news portal CodeBlue about how hospitals should not expect the emergency department (ED) alone to handle the surge of  

She was responding to an article by health news portal CodeBlue on how hospitals should not leave it to the emergency department (ED) alone to handle patients there. 

This followed reports of patients being left for up to six days in Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun’s emergency department due to a lack of critical care beds and hospital staff. 

A hospital’s emergency (and trauma) is meant to “stabilise critical cases for immediate admission into the respective inpatient ward – either the intensive care unit (ICU) or high dependency unit (HDU), or for trauma cases, operations in the operating theatre. 

This is as the emergency team is not trained to provide the necessary medical treatment for such severely ill patients.  

Issue will persist “forever” 

According to Dr Adeeba who is an infectious diseases expert, this issue will persist “forever” until the problems that healthcare workers in Malaysia face are resolved. 

The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing healthcare emergency had drawn much attention to the issues in the country’s public health system, particularly the plight of medical officers and contract doctors. 

A social media campaign known as #HartalDoktorKontrak began to gain traction in 2021 and eventually led to contract doctors going on strike over the issue of their permanent placement. 

Then health minister Khairy Jamaluddin had announced in February that 4,186 healthcare workers on contract would be absorbed into the health ministry for permanent posts from June onwards. 

Khairy said the Cabinet had agreed to open up at least 1,500 permanent positions for doctors every year from 2023 to 2025. 

Earlier this month, newly-minted health minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa told Bernama that resolving the plight of contract doctors who are fighting for permanent positions in the public sector will be among her main agenda. – Dec 22, 2022 


Main photo credit: Malaysiakini

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