Malaysia needs more specialist doctors, says health minister

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is facing a shortage of specialist doctors despite an increasing number of medical graduates from local and foreign institutions every year.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr. S Subramaniam said the current lack of specialists needed to be addressed immediately to prevent a crisis later on.   

"We're still lacking in terms of specialists as we only manage to train about 500 to 600 doctors into experts in a year.  

"So we are looking at ways to increase the number of specialists and at the same time upgrade the quality of care," he told reporters at 'An Evening with the Health Minister' organised by the Malaysian Medical Association, here today.  

Commenting on 'too many doctors' in Malaysia, he said the ministry would continue to create more government posts for doctors and other health care professionals, on a regular basis.

He said at present there were 36,607 doctors, including specialists, with a doctor to population ratio of 1:791 and by the year 2020 based on the estimated population of 34 million, 85,000 doctors would be needed to attain the standard ratio of 1:400.   

"Previously, posts in the government were not filled due to insufficient medical graduates but now almost 85 per cent of the posts have been filled with around 3,700 intakes every year.   

Earlier in his speech, Dr. Subramaniam said the ministry was working closely with the Malaysian Medical Council and Education Ministry on the approvals for new medical schools in Malaysia.  

"At regular meetings with the Deans of medical schools in Malaysia, various issues are deliberated including the appropriateness of enhancing the medical curriculum to prepare graduates to meet local needs and challenges.

"This is to ensure an optimum supply of competent doctors. However, we have limited control over medical faculties abroad," he said.  

He said the recognition of foreign medical degrees needed to be reviewed and strengthened and the issuance of the 'No Objection Certificate' by the Ministry Of Education was a must before they could enroll into schools abroad.  

He said private medical schools should ensure that their curriculum and performance markers were on par with other established medical institutions.

"Those who face difficulties in providing quality lecturers and facilities should consider merging," he said.

He added that the ministry had no intention of increasing the consultation fees of doctors by 30 per cent as rumoured.


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