KUCHING (March 26): The Public Service Department (JPA) should explain its sudden move to stop sponsoring students in local universities who intend to study medicine, said Dr Muruga Raj Rajathurai.
The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president today said although the number of medical graduates needs to be managed, abruptly stopping the scholarship might not be the answer.
He questioned whether JPA’s move will affect the expertise needed in the public healthcare sector in the near future and long term.
“What is the government’s policy on human resources planning for the public healthcare sector?
“We hope JPA will be able to share its projection of medical officers, specialists, allied healthcare personnel and other healthcare staff that will be needed for the next five and 10 years,” he said in a statement.
Dr Muruga pointed out that Malaysia has yet to meet the recommended 1:400 doctor to patient ratio in public healthcare facilities.
“In some hospitals, the ratio can go up as high as one doctor to 1,000 patients and there are also shortages in the number of public healthcare specialists.
“There needs to be sufficient planning of healthcare human resources taking into consideration the needs and population growth,” he said in adding that sufficient time is needed to train healthcare workers.
He also expressed his concern that there might not be enough specialists in the future as the demand for specialist services are increasing.
“This is expected to further increase due to an ageing population. Malaysia will reach ageing nation status in 2030 where 15 per cent of its population will be 60 years or older. How are we preparing for this demographic change in our population?” he asked.
He said local university students wishing to pursue a career in Medicine will still need the support as not all of them come from well off families.
JPA in a notice on its website recently said sponsorships for first degrees programmes this year will not include medical, dental, pharmacy and the education fields as well as nursing, paramedical and pre-service programmes.
However, applications for sponsorships to enrol in first-degree courses at public universities, premier polytechnics and government-linked universities are now open through variable loans, it added.