Health Ministry, Public Service Dept in talks over move to end medical scholarships

11 Jun 2023 02:21pm
Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa - BERNAMA
Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa - BERNAMA

PORT DICKSON - Discussion is in progress between the Health Ministry (MOH) and the Public Service Department (JPA) regarding the department’s decision to stop sponsoring students in medicine, dentistry and pharmacy.

Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said the ministry was also prepared to review a study conducted in 2019 which projected an oversupply of medical officers from 2026 to 2030.

"We know there are changes, especially after the post-Covid-19, so there may be new things that need to be revisited in the study.

"Our worry is that the move (to halt sponsorship) may discourage students from pursuing studies,” she told reporters after launching the Global Adults Tobacco Survey (GATS) here today.

The event was also attended by Health Director-General Datuk Dr Muhammad Radzi Abu Hassan and the Acting Health deputy director General (Education and Technical Support) Datuk Dr Fariza Ngah.

According to Dr Zaliha, the ministry is worried that the decision would discourage students from continuing studies in the medical field.

Health services are essential, therefore professions such as doctors and other positions in the medical scheme are necessary in the country, she said.

Based on media reports, the PSD has decided to stop sponsoring students pursuing studies in medicine, dentistry and pharmacy following a study by the Health Ministry which projected an over-supply of medical officers from 2026 to 2030.

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According to Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Sabah, Sarawak Affairs and Special Functions) Datuk Armizan Mohd Ali, MOH’s Health Indicators 2022 report showed a nationwide 1:420 ratio of doctor to population (across both public and private sectors), with a 1:400 ratio expected to be achieved in 2025.

Meanwhile, on the GATS, Dr Zaliha said it is a household survey conducted nationwide by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

"The Public Health Institute (IKU) will conduct the GATS for the second time. The first GATS was conducted in 2011. Data collection will be conducted from June 12 to July 22," she said.

Citing the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2019, Dr Zaliha said, 4.8 million Malaysians aged 15 and above were active smokers.

GATS aims to obtain up-to-date information on tobacco use and monitor the effectiveness of tobacco control interventions, she said, adding that the data obtained will be used to help the ministry to strengthen the tobacco control strategy in the country.

The survey will involve approximately 5,000 randomly selected households across the country, targeting individuals aged 15 years and above. - BERNAMA