As Vice-Chairman Of WHO, Health Minister Zaliha Should Take In Malaysian Doctors From WHO Recognized Universities

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Feb 21 2023
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Dr Zaliha Mustafa, a graduate in Medicine and Surgery from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, had previously served with former Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail – the wife of current 10th Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim. The 58-year-old doctor said her interest in politics began since she was in secondary school, but her desire to become a doctor overwhelmed her interest.


The 15th General Election provided her the platform to pursue her interest after she won the Sekijang parliamentary seat. The opportunity provided by Pakatan Harapan was part of a move to attract more professional women into the world of politics, which she gladly accepted to fulfull her second ambition. Her appointment as the new health minister has raised many eyebrows.


Now, she is not only the first female Minister of Health in the country, but also created history after being appointed as the Vice-Chairman of the World Health Organization Executive Board representing the Western Pacific region for 2023-2024. Dr Zaliha became Malaysia’s first Health Minister to chair the 152nd Session of the WHO Executive Board Meting in Geneva (Jan 30-Feb 7).

Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa

Her appointment as the Vice-Chairman of WHO, however, is meaningless if she could not fix endless problems plaguing local graduates and doctors. Below is a letter from disillussioned Malaysian doctors who think Health Minister Dr Zaliha, who is now Vice-Chairman of WHO, should take in Malaysian doctors from WHO recognised universities.


Greetings to our Health Minister,

Firstly, I would like to congratulate our health minister YB Dr. Zaliha Mustafa on being appointed as the vice-chairman of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Executive Board representing the Western Pacific region for 2023-2024 and as the first health minister from Malaysia to chair the WHO executive board meeting.


As a sign of goodwill, Malaysia should recognize all the universities in the WHO list and not rely on a biased list brought out by the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC). Every reputable university in every nation of the world which is licensed as a medical teaching university is in the WHO list.

Malaysian Medical Council

However, Malaysia refuses to follow this list but relies on a list where MMC sends inspectors who come up with biased reports to find out if a university should be recognized or not in Malaysia. This system is highly open to corruption and even MMC has said in court documents that they don’t have funds to send teams to all universities from where Malaysians have graduated from.


MMC only sends teams to universities who open enrollment to JPA (Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam). If a university refuses to take in JPA sponsored medical students, MMC will not send a team to evaluate and write up a glossy report supporting JPA’s decision. The sent team will be feted and one team member was even previously caught in a corruption scandal when students in a Russian university complained.


Even the exams MMC conducts for unrecognised university graduates are highly open to manipulation. Instead of conducting the exams on their own, MMC sub-contracted it to the local universities who make the unrecognized doctors answer in English while the local students answer in Malay for the same questions. Even worse was that the role numbers were different. The unrecognized grads were not given marks from course work, and they had negative marking practiced for their answer sheets but not for the local university students.

Australian Medical Council AMC

So why should anyone want to subject themselves to a biased system and biased examiners when they go to sit for the MMC exams? But then Malaysia refuses to accept Australian Medical Council exams which are very clear cut and considered one of the toughest exams in the world. In this matter, MMC claims they only accept recognized university exams and not council exams but insists doctors from unrecognized universities sit for their ‘council’ exams. MMC has the same attitude towards Canadian, UK and US exams.


The doctors from unrecognized universities are made to take 6-month courses and they have to foot a bill of nearly 10K now for it. What use are these courses when they end up failing? Is there something wrong with the course or was it just another money making scheme used to legitimize their failure?


They might have passed the theory part but failed the practical part. But our MMC in all their wisdom, insist that they have to pass both the parts in one go unlike any other professional exams which allow you to pass one step at a time and only retake the part which was lacking.  When approached, MMC insists they can’t help and nobody is to question their decision.

Malaysia Medical Students

Why can’t they give the results immediately within the week like they do for local university students but make the doctors from unrecognized universities wait for more than a month? How sure are we that there is no manipulation during that time in MMC? When a system is not open for scrutiny, never doubt that industrious chaps will know how to make hay while the sun shines.


Right now, we are in a crisis in our medical sector with burnout by doctors.

Emergency departments are overcrowded.

Only 62% of housemen positions are filled.


All these situations can be settled if the Health Minister changes the laws and removes the hold MMC has over doctor intake and accepts all Malaysian doctors from WHO recognized universities even if they are considered unrecognized here in Malaysia. Remove the biased MMC exams! It’s high time we prioritize Malaysians and not employ foreigners to fill the need for doctors here in Malaysia unlike what MMC has been practicing all these years.

Malaysian Medical Doctor - Graduates

MMC is so biased against our own Malaysians that it even allows self-sponsored foreigners who are from the same unrecognized universities these Malaysians graduated from to come here and do specialist courses at Malaysian local universities and return to their country as specialists trained from Malaysia. Why can’t the same privileges be given to our own Malaysians when their foreign classmates are given preference?


These Malaysians went with the Sijil Sokongan given by the Malaysian government but when they returned, were lied to that they will be taken in by the previous health minister in 2002 (Chua Jui Meng) and forced to take a 6-month course in 2003 where they were failed in biased exams to keep to MMC’s quota system for them at 10%.


Many other biased 6-month trainings and exams have been conducted since then but it’s always with the same outcome. Now MMC claims their exams have a 40% passing rate recently. How come suddenly doctors are doing better? Doesn’t this just mean that previous exams were manipulated to show a desired outcome of keeping out mainly Indian doctors from the public service? How we have sinned as a nation!

Malaysia Medical Students Give Health Check

All this is done when people in the outskirts of Sabah and Sarawak are dying as they do not have enough doctors to go there. What is so hard to send these doctors from so called unrecognized universities there for extra training before taking them in instead of having to sit for biased exams?


This was schemed up by Mahathir and the racially biased system he perpetuated in all government departments. Even on his second opportunity, he refused to take in these unrecognized medical graduates. When he lost power in 2020, the racist governments of the two Prime Ministers who took over refused to entertain various appeals during the Covid pandemic to take in these doctors. Why the arrogance to take in these doctors when people were literally dying, and doctors were pleading for help?


After all, during housemanship there is pre, mid and post-tests in each department to weed out the doctors and they will have to repeat the departments till they are competent enough before leaving it. So why have these MMC based exams and MMC based list of recognized universities when all should be encouraged to join and trained to make the cut based on the WHO list?

Malaysia Insufficient Doctors - Rural Area Borneo Sabah and Sarawak

This MMC based list only encourages high prices of medical training in recognized medical universities. Remove this recognition system and let market forces take over and the price of medical training will plummet down. India’s Ramiah Medical college was offering a medical course for 60K in the early 1990’s. The moment they got recognition, they price shot up to 130K over night. Why? To pay off the cronies and get a bigger slice of cake? Did their teaching standards or their infrastructure suddenly improve overnight?


Furthermore, our beloved Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has made it one of his rallying calls to cut off the middlemen and to have equal opportunity for everyone. Nearly 100 days are over and still there is no mention of the plight of unrecognized doctors at all. Do they need to start making Tik Tok videos or organize a strike also before they are taken seriously?


Suddenly those who were very approachable before the elections seem to be unreachable once they have formed the government. We understand that the difficulties and the mess of the previous administrations were numerous and warranted their attention in the first 100 days. Thus, we hope that there will be no more delays into looking into the plight of unrecognized doctors anymore.

Racism - Malaysia Hospital Doctors

I’ve written about this in length in the other articles about unrecognized doctors Finance Twitter has published in the past few years. Please do take time to read them as each article has different points and hopefully we can meet up to discuss matters once a positive outcome is reached. Don’t waste our time coming to Putrajaya just to tell us that you can’t help us like what was done by Mahathir’s health minister when Pakatan first came to power then in 2018.


Once again, we wish our Health Minister the best and hope this letter propels her to make changes to the present system for the betterment of all Malaysians and not leave any Malaysians behind. Being a doctor herself, I’m sure she will have a deeper understanding of this matter and will not let the DG of Health or bureaucrats dictate their whims and fancies to her unlike previous health ministers.


Disillusioned Malaysian Doctor


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