Malaysia’s doctor-population ratio surpasses WHO recommendation, says health minister

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba presents the findings of the 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey at the Health Ministry in Putrajaya May 29, 2020. — Bernama pic
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba presents the findings of the 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey at the Health Ministry in Putrajaya May 29, 2020. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 4 — Malaysia’s current doctor-population ratio has surpassed and is better than one doctor for every 500 people recommended by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO), according to Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba.

He said this is because Malaysia currently has 71,041 medical doctors working in both public and private sectors, making a ratio of one doctor for every 454 people. 

“This ratio is indeed better that one doctor for every 500 people,” he said in reply to Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad (PH-Kuala Selangor) during question time at the Dewan Rakyat sitting today.

Dzulkefly had wanted to know the number of doctors serving with the MOH, the doctor-population ratio in Malaysia and whether Malaysia intends to increase the number of doctors so that it will be ideal in line with the WHO’s recommendation which is one doctor for every 500 people.

Dr Adham said of the total number of doctors in the country, 73 per cent or 51,912 are medical doctors registered and currently serving with the Ministry of Health (MOH).

Elaborating, the minister said, as of June 30, there are 11,059 dentists in Malaysia, making a ratio of one dentist for every 2,963 people, with 6,530 of them serving with the MOH.

“For pharmacists, there are 19,341 of them working in both public and private sectors, with a ratio of one pharmacist for every 1,694 people. Of the total, 11,616 were registered and serving with the MOH.

Meanwhile, Dr Adham explained that the WHO or any international organisation has never set the healthcare worker-population ratio for any country.

However, he said WHO through the Health Workforce Requirement for Universal Health Coverage and Sustainable Development Goal Report in 2016 recommended a ratio of at least one healthcare worker (including trained doctors and nurses) for every 225 people.

“WHO states that the ratio is necessary to obtain better universal health coverage at the rate of 80 per cent for services involving mothers and children, infectious diseases, and non-communicable diseases.

“Malaysia has so far achieved a ratio of one healthcare worker (including trained doctors and nurses) for every 186 people, surpassing WHO’s recommendation to obtain universal health coverage,” he said.

The minister also said that the MOH always takes steps to increase the training capacity for medical, dental and pharmacy graduates to undergo compulsory training and services.

“This allows them to continue being a medical practitioner either in the public or private sector,” he added. — Bernama

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