Some 1,000 would-be doctors have dropped out from the medical field because of their poor command of English.
The Star reports that the medical graduates had completed two-year housemanship in public hospitals, but are no longer keen on pursuing the career because of the language barrier.
“Despite having completed their housemanship last year, they are no longer keen to be doctors.
"The main reason was their poor grasp of English," Malacca Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr M Nachiappan was quoted as saying by the English daily today.
Other factors were lack of interest in basic medical training, poor relationship skills with patients and frustration with working conditions.
Nachiappan said the lack of English proficiency was a serious handicap for Malaysia's medical students, especially when competing with those from other countries.
He said the poor grasp of English is affecting medical students even from college level.
"The quality of our students is compromised due to their inability to communicate in English,” he said, pointing to the poor results obtained by medical students in universities and medical colleges.
He added that most reference books on medicine and lectures were in English.
As such, Nachiappan said efforts must be made to improve the command of the language.
“There must be an urgency to improve the grasp of the language at the primary level. Otherwise, the quality of doctors will go downhill,” he said.