KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 2 — Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Noraini Ahmad told the Dewan Rakyat this morning that the quota system for medical studies at public universities remains the best way to control the number of medical workers in the country.

The government is facing pressure to recruit thousands of contract doctors and nurses still without permanent positions within the public healthcare system, prompting them to organise a strike in July amid a sharp surge in Covid-19 infections.

Leaders of the movement, a decentralised group birthed on social media using the hashtag “HartalDoktorKontrak”, had said it would strike again after Putrajaya ignored its call for all contract medical workers to be offered permanent employment in public hospitals.

“Coincidentally the moratorium on medical student intake, hopefully, will end this year but institutions of higher learning are still bound by the quota system set by the Ministry of Health and the MMC (Malaysian Medical Council),” Noraini said.

Former health minister Datuk Seri Adham Baba said in August that the government, through the Ministry of Higher Education, had extended a moratorium in offering new medical courses in institutes of higher learning in the country for another five years until 2021.

The moratorium covers three aspects —no addition of new medical colleges, no addition to new medical programmes, and no increase in the quota of medical students.

The quota system was introduced in 2018 by the former health minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, with the aim of curbing the oversupply of medical graduates.