KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian students will be able to study medicine in any institution in the world when amendments are made to the Medical Act 1971.
However, they will now have to sit for a licensing examination before being registered with the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC).
Among the amendments to the Act involves abolishing the Second Schedule, which lists the 375 recognised medical institutions from 34 countries now, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
When the schedule is scrapped, medical students will be free to study in any institution of their choice — but would first need to obtain the “No Objection” certificate from the Ministry of Higher Education.
“The amendments will only apply to new medical students and not those who are already in existing courses,” said Liow when replying to a question from Dr Tan Seng Giaw (DAP-Kepong) in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
On the issue of quality, Liow admitted that it would be difficult to regularly monitor the medical courses offered by the institutions since it would be expensive to send evaluation panels overseas.
Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr David Quek said the association supported the move but said students and parents must choose foreign universities carefully.
“Although they can choose any university they want to go to, they still need to come back and sit for the (licensing) exam, which may include clinical examination.
“The exam will ensure that only those who pass are able to practise as doctors,” he said, adding that this would also reduce complaints of bias and remove unfair labels, especially against lesser-known foreign universities.
He added that students studying in local medical schools should also sit for the exam.
A local practitioner, who declined to be named, expressed concern that the quality of medical education might be jeopardised given the high number of local medical schools.
A medical lecturer at Universiti Malaya said the amendments would push students to study locally, and the situation must be monitored to ensure schools were up to mark.
Physicians for Social Responsibility vice-president Datuk Dr Abdul Hamid Abdul Kadir said students attending local schools that had tie-ups with foreign institutions should also be subjected to the exam.