Distribution of doctors vital to ensure proper care for all

The Dewan Rakyat was told that the doctor-population ratio in Malaysia stands at 1:454. Former Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, however, stressed it is the distribution of doctors throughout the nation that needs to be addressed.

Dr Dzulkefly also hoped the Health Ministry will look into the additional 10,675 various positions within the ministry that were being considered before he left office, the career paths of doctors and dentists seconded to the Prisons Department and the pneumococcal vaccination exercise that was slated to start in June.

“The ratio is just the average but it doesn’t mean it is the reality. If we were to look at it state by state, you’ll find the ratio of doctors to the population in Sabah and Sarawak would be 1:1,000,” Dr Dzulkefly told Twentytwo13.

“What is important is that issues of doctors, nurses and health workers being overworked and departments being understaffed be looked into. The disparity is quite obvious, especially in remote areas.

“There is too much stress on hospital-based treatment instead of prevention.”

Dr Dzulkefly had in November last year revealed the Health Ministry was pushing for 10,675 additional slots to handle the rising number of medical graduates, pending the approvals of various agencies, including the Public Service Department.

“Before I left, there was an opening of 10,657 posts. What is the follow-up?”

Prof Datuk Dr N.K.S. Tharmaseelan also raised the issue of distribution of health experts across the country.

“We have a decent doctor-population ratio but the distribution is not even. The same applies for those doing their housemanship,” said Dr Tharmaseelan, a former president of the Malaysian Medical Association.

“Some units or departments in Sabah and Sarawak have just a handful of doctors but you will see so many doctors attached to a similar unit or department in Kuala Lumpur.

“Some departments in the city have over 100 housemen. The learning experience and standard of care are ruined.”

He said there are currently 40-odd hospitals in the country that train housemen, adding many other hospitals that can be upgraded to provide operating facilities.

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BUILD CAREER PATHWAY FOR PRISON DOCS, DENTISTS

As for doctors and dentists who serve the Prisons Department which falls under the Home Ministry, Dr Dzulkefly said he spoke about this during his brief time in office, adding a career pathway must be built.

“Right now, it’s cul de sac for them in terms of their career pathway. I’ve raised this during a post-Cabinet meeting. There is a blind spot, these doctors and dentists are just forgotten. There must be a follow-up on this too.”

DON’T FORGET PNEUMOCOCCAL JABS

Dr Dzukefly also added the government should not lose focus on the pneumococcal vaccination exercise which was to have been implemented in June. The RM60 million plan was allocated under Budget 2020.

“Health is imperative and is beyond politics. We must not compromise on any health initiatives,” he told Twentytwo13.

PTPTN LOAN REPAYMENT DEFERRED

Higher Education Minister Datuk Noraini Ahmad said the government will be extending deferment on loan repayments for the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) for three more months (Oct 1 to Dec 31).

The deferral repayment, estimated to be RM1.13 billion, is automatic and borrowers need not make an application.

SIC BOSS WORKING ON EXTENDING MOTOGP’S STAY IN MALAYSIA

MotoGP fans are disappointed by the cancellation of this year’s Malaysian Grand Prix but some good news is in store.

Sepang International Circuit (SIC) chief executive officer Azhan Shafriman Hanif revealed negotiations with rights holder Dorna to renew Malaysia’s hosting contract are going on smoothly.