KUALA LUMPUR, March 7 — Tangga Batu MP Bakri Jamaluddin has highlighted a severe shortage of physiotherapists both throughout the country and in the public sector itself.
The PAS lawmaker from Perikatan Nasional (PN) told Parliament yesterday Malaysia has around 4,500 physiotherapists across the public and private sectors (including private hospitals and clinics), equivalent to 1:7,300 in a population of 32.9 million people.
The 1,956 physiotherapists serving in the Ministry of Health (MOH) is equivalent to 1:16,000 in the country.
“So, how can we provide good and efficient services?” Bakri said in his debate on Budget 2023 in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
The Melaka PAS information chief drew attention to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines on the ratio of physiotherapists to population, stating that the ideal ratio would be one per 2,000 people. He also highlighted that Malaysia has fallen far behind this ideal ratio when compared to neighbouring countries Singapore and Thailand.
“Norway, Germany, and Belgium have achieved a ratio of 1:500. The UK, Australia, and New Zealand have achieved a ratio of 1:1,000 population.
“Our neighbour Singapore 1:2,800, and Thailand 1:4,600,” said Bakri.
The Tangga Batu MP said the Sungai Udang health centre in Melaka, for example, has only one physiotherapist to serve a population of 43,000 people.
“Tangga Batu wishes to draw the attention of the Honourable members, especially the Minister of Health, that for all this time, we have only focused attention on the shortage of medical doctors and nurses. However, we don’t give attention to the physiotherapy profession.
“Their role is very important in helping stroke patients, primarily if it involves the main breadwinner of the family, from the acute phase to the chronic phase of treatment,” Bakri said.
“Although MOH has a domiciliary health care services programme, PPD, in which holistic treatment is given to bedridden patients at home who are stable and need continuous care and treatment after being discharged from government hospitals, but the access, intensity, and outreach is limited. There may be certain places that do not provide physiotherapy treatment at all, due to the limited number of physiotherapists.
The PPD programme is an initiative by the MOH at the primary care level that was introduced in 2016, focusing on the provision of holistic health care to the community.
The service is provided to stable bedridden patients who are discharged early from government hospitals but require continuous care. This service is delivered in the patient’s home by a multidisciplinary team from a selected nearby public health clinic.