KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 22 — Less than a third of cardiologists and oncologists in Malaysia work for the Ministry of Health (MOH), while the rest are employed by public university or private hospitals, according to Dr Adham Baba.
The health minister, in his written Dewan Negara reply, said that only 10 per cent (30 cardiologists) out of 300 cardiologists in Malaysia are working in MOH hospitals, whereas only 26 per cent (35 oncologists) out of 133 oncologists nationwide work in MOH hospitals.
“There are 79 trainees who are undergoing their cardiology specialty training and will serve the MOH hospitals and contribute to the development of services,” Dr Adham told Senator Dr Ahmad Azam Hamzah in his written parliamentary reply on September 23.
“MOH plans to increase the number of oncologists in the 12th Malaysian Plan by 80 people.”
Senator Dr Ahmad (PKR) had asked the health minister if the government has plans to develop specialist units like urology, cardiology and oncology in major state hospitals.
Dr Adham replied saying that almost all MOH state hospitals have the urology, cardiology, and oncology services. However, he said that to provide a more comprehensive service, it requires a substantial allocation, trained specialists, clinical support staff, provision of infrastructure (including invasive cardiology laboratories, operation theatres), and high-technology equipment.
He explained that the oncology services currently provided in the public sector are offered regionally.
“Currently, only five zones have the expertise through six cancer treatment centres in Malaysia, namely the National Cancer Institute (in Putrajaya); Kuala Lumpur Hospital; Penang Hospital; Sultan Ismail Hospital, Johor Baru; Women’s and Children’s Hospital Likas (in Sabah); and Sarawak General Hospital,” Dr Adham told the Dewan Negara.
“Besides that, chemotherapy treatment services for cancer patients are available in 37 MOH hospitals nationwide.”
The health minister also said that there are 10 MOH hospitals with resident specialists in the field of cardiology, covering all six major zones in the country. A total of 18 hospitals have visiting cardiologists, while four additional hospitals receive access to this expertise.
However, Dr Adham said that early heart treatment services are provided at all MOH hospitals nationwide by general physicians and medical officers.
MOH will also be setting up one more invasive cardiology lab (ICL) for all three government cardiology centres, which includes Serdang Hospital, Sultanah Bahiyah Alor Setar Hospital, and Queen Elizabeth II Hospital, Kota Kinabalu, in order to improve the services and accommodate an increase in the number of patients.
Besides that, Dr Adham said that as of now, 21 urology surgeons have been placed in 10 main public hospitals.
“MOH also has plans to develop urology services for Perak, Melaka, Terengganu, and Negeri Sembilan, including Sabah, especially in districts like Sandakan or Tawau,” Dr Adham said.
In a written Dewan Rakyat reply last July, Dr Adham said that as of March 31, there were a total of 5,322 specialist medical officers nationwide, with an increase of 797 medical specialists from 4,525 on December 31, 2016.
The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) said that Malaysia requires approximately 13,000 specialists by this year and currently, only 51 public hospitals accommodate specialists while most speciality care is centred in major cities.
The Academy of Medicine of Malaysia (AMM) said yesterday that Malaysia is facing a shortage of specialists, with only 3.9 specialists to 10,000 population (as of last June 30), compared to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) average of 14.3 specialists to 10,000 population in 2018.
“There now remains 4,541 permanent positions approved by the Public Service Department (JPA) for MOH throughout 2020 that have yet to be created. We urge that these permanent positions are filled instead of creating more contract posts,” said the medical specialists’ body.