Friday, June 11, 2010

Plug loopholes to stop the brain drain

MANY fresh pharmacy graduates have been lured away by companies and hospitals from Singapore even before they complete compulsory service in Malaysia.

If this problem is not taken seriously or tackled, Malaysia will not achieve the ideal pharmacist population ratio in the time planned.

A report published in 2008 by the Health Ministry put the ratio of pharmacists to population in Malaysia at 1:4,335. This is far from the ideal ratio recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which is 1:2,000.

In order to meet the WHO target, the ministry enforced compulsory service on all pharmacy graduates from 2005 – a year of pre-registration training followed by three years of compulsory service in the government sector.

The Government also sponsored many students to study abroad in addition to the provision of higher education subsidies to support professional programmes at local public universities.

Implications related to a brain drain include:

> The Government spending a lot of money on manpower training, but Singapore is enjoying the products without any investment at all; and,

> Local graduates migrating to Singapore are actually taking over public university slots that can be taken by other qualified candidates who are genuinely passionate in contributing to the country.

Drastic preventive and deterrent measures should be taken immediately to contain the migration of graduates. Among steps that can be taken are:

a) Introducing a contract for all candidates of critical programmes that require graduates to complete their training and compulsory service with the Malaysian Government;

b) Imposing an appropriate levy on employers from foreign countries recruiting locally-trained pharmacy graduates similar to or higher than the education subsidy for training of the graduates;

c) Instilling patriotism among the students in all higher institutions of learning, especially those in public universities;

d) Blacklisting family members of the migrated graduates from entering public universities; and,

e) Legislating a law to prevent migration of graduates of critical professional courses before they complete their training and subsequent compulsory service.

The time has come for the authorities to think and act quickly so that the currently available loopholes in the system are not exploited by the neighbouring country.

Our country is already facing a serious problem where sponsored students are refusing to come back to serve the country. Now the issue is worsened by the migration of locally trained graduates.


School of Pharmaceutical Sciences,

Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Source: The Star, 11 June 2010

P/s: Something to ponder...

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