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Malaysia health minister says steps taken to tackle shortage of healthcare workers

KUALA LUMPUR: Amid a shortage of doctors and nurses in public hospitals and clinics, Malaysia’s Ministry of Health has taken several steps to remedy the situation, the country’s Health Minister Zaliha Mustafa said on Monday (Feb 27).

In a written reply to a parliamentary question, Dr Zaliha said that among the steps taken by her ministry to increase the number of medical officers in Malaysia include expediting the appointment process of all medical graduates by omitting the interview process conducted by the Public Services Commission.

Other measures include increasing the graduate training slots at the health ministry as well as reappointing retired medical officers on a contractual basis, said Dr Zaliha. 

She added that the health ministry is also encouraging Malaysian specialists working overseas to return home and serve the country. 

Dr Zaliha was responding to a question from Puchong Member of Parliament Yeo Bee Yin, who had asked the health ministry on the steps it has taken to overcome the issue of manpower in hospitals.

The issue came under the spotlight more recently after local media reports highlighted issues of hospitals overflowing with patients and long waiting times at emergency departments. 

Dr Zaliha on Monday said that there were 59,651 medical officers with the health ministry last year, a 6.6 per cent increase compared to the 55,973 in 2021.

“Based on this increase, the ministry is optimistic of achieving the target ratio of one doctor to 400 people (1:400) in 2025,” she said.

Dr Zaliha noted that based on annual trends, 70 per cent of medical officers work in the public sector while the remaining 30 per cent are in the private sector. 

As for nurses, the health minister said that 60 per cent of the 115,230 nurses in Malaysia serve under the health ministry. 


Separately, Deputy Prime Minister Fadillah Yusof told parliament on Tuesday that congestion at government hospitals was an indication about the improvement of the country’s healthcare system.

He noted that the problem of overcrowding had persisted even as the government had built new hospitals and upgraded old ones. 

“When the services have improved, the people will have more confidence to go to government hospitals.

“Secondly, the hospital provides services that are almost free of charge, it is so cheap compared to private hospitals. That is why the government hospital has become a focus (for people to visit),” said Mr Fadillah. 

The deputy prime minister added that the overcrowding at the public hospitals also shows that Malaysians are not practising a healthy lifestyle. 

“That is why more people need to go to a doctor and why the health ministry has emphasised the promotion of living healthily.

“This is important as a preventive measure that we should focus on…So that our hospitals are not burdened by too many medical cases that in the end bring losses to the country financially and the people as well,” said Mr Fadillah. 

Source: CNA/rv(as)


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