GEORGE TOWN: The spate of claims that Malaysia’s doctors-in-training are facing extreme pressure, abuse and even bullying has triggered calls for the Health Ministry to take a serious look into the matter.

This follows confirmation that a Penang Hospital houseman fell from his residential building on April 17, a case which police had initially classified as “sudden death”.

Another doctor had resigned and “died suddenly” in December 2020.

Alliance of Safe Community chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said the two sudden deaths “looked mysterious” and called on the ministry to conduct thorough and independent investigations to determine the truth.

“The mystery behind the sudden deaths of these two junior doctors should be unravelled,” said Lee, the former chairman of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow has also urged the ministry to set up a special committee of inquiry into the most recent death.

Such an inquiry, he said, was vital to identify the real cause of the incident and prevent similar stories from recurring, especially for housemen around the country.

“The Health Ministry and relevant authorities must step forward and explain what happened.

“They must review and revamp the existing management system, especially the work duration of doctors on duty,” he said.

Malaysia Trade Union Congress’ Penang division secretary K. Veeriah supported the call for a commission of inquiry.

He said excessively long working hours could result in physical and mental health deterioration, while working under duress and intimidation leads to mental distress for medical interns.

“Working between 12 and 16 hours a day is simply inhumane. It’s a gross infringement of the fundamental norms of a decent, safe and healthy working environment,” he said.