PUBLIC Service Department Malaysia (JPA) should explain its sudden move to stop sponsoring students in local universities who intend to study medicine. Of course we have to manage the number of medical graduates but abruptly stopping the scholarship for medical studies might not be the way.
Will this move affect the expertise that will be needed in the public healthcare sector in the near future and long term? What is the government’s policy on human resources planning for the public healthcare sector?
We hope JPA will be able to share its projection of medical officers, specialists, allied healthcare personnel and other healthcare staff that will be needed for the next five and 10 years.
Even now, our country still has not met the recommended 1:400 doctor to patient ratio in public healthcare facilities. In some hospitals, the ratio can go up as high as 1 doctor to 1000 patients and there are also shortages in the number of public healthcare specialists.
There needs to be sufficient planning of healthcare human resources taking into consideration the needs and population growth. Sufficient time is also needed to train healthcare workers. Our worry is there might not be enough specialists in the future as the demand for specialist services are increasing and is expected to further increase due to an ageing population. Malaysia will reach ageing nation status in 2030 where 15% of its population will be 60 years or older.
How are we preparing for this demographic change in our population?
Local university students wishing to pursue a career in Medicine will still need the support and we should continue to support them as not all students come from families that are well off. — March 26, 2023
Dr Muruga Raj Rajathurai is president of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.