Concerns are being raised about the quality of young doctors in Malaysia, with the country's biggest doctors' association raising the red flag on foreign medical colleges and experts also warning of sub-standard local training.
The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), the main representative body for all doctors in the country, has called on the government to review its list of recognised foreign medical colleges.
Those that have failed to meet the government's mandatory standards, it said, should have their accreditation withdrawn.
"It is a known fact that doctors who failed to obtain the minimum (O-level equivalent) requirements... to enroll into medical schools have been slipping into the Malaysian health-care system," Dr N.K.S. Tharmaseelan, president of the MMA, said in a statement on Sunday.
The problem is not only with foreign medical colleges, experts say. Over the years, the government has allowed a mushrooming of private medical colleges in the country, as it strives for developed nation status.
Currently, there is one doctor for every 780 in the population. The goal is one doctor for every 600 people in the country by 2015, and one for every 400 by the year 2020.
But the private medical colleges have lower entry requirements than public institutions. Furthermore, once these doctors graduate, they hit a bottleneck in training, with the country's teaching hospitals struggling to absorb the growing number of graduates.
Fresh graduates now wait up to nine months to do their two-year compulsory training in government hospitals, known as housemanship.