KUALA LUMPUR, August 4 — Malaysia has sufficient health care workers with a ratio of one staff (comprising doctors and nurses) to 186 people, better than the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 1:225 goal.
Health Minister Dr Adham Baba said WHO’s 1:225 ratio was mentioned in its 2016 “Health Workforce Requirements for Universal Health Coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals” report as a target for universal health coverage at 80 per cent for maternal and child health services, as well as for communicable and non-communicable diseases.
But he stressed that WHO has never set a ratio of health workers to the population as official targets in any countries.
“Although WHO or any other international bodies do not set a specific ratio for any profession in the health care sector, the Ministry of Health (MOH) is always increasing training capacity for medical, dental and pharmacy graduates to do their training and compulsory service,” Dr Adham told his predecessor and Kuala Selangor MP, Dzulkefly Ahmad, in the Dewan Rakyat today during Question Time.
Dzulkefly had asked Dr Adham if Malaysia was planning to increase the number of doctors to reach WHO’s recommendation of one doctor to 500 population.
The health minister replied that Malaysia currently has 71,041 medical doctors in the public and private sectors, equivalent to one doctor for every 454 people, better than the 1:500 ratio. Of these, 73 per cent, or 51,912 doctors, are working in MOH.
As of June 30, there are 11,059 dentists in the public and private sectors, equivalent to one dentist per 2,963 population. About 59 per cent, or 6,530 dentists, are employed by the government in MOH.
According to Dr Adham, 19,341 pharmacists are working in both the public and private sectors in Malaysia, equivalent to one pharmacist for every 1,694 people. The majority of pharmacists at 60 per cent, or 11,616 pharmacists, are serving the public sector in MOH.
Update at 9:00pm: The headline was amended to represent the Health Minister’s response more accurately.