Our doctor-to-population ratio better than WHO’s recommendation? Reality is different, Kuching MP says

Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen today criticised the doctor-to-population ratio provided by Putrajaya recently, saying the reality on the ground may not be fully reflected by the number. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen today criticised the doctor-to-population ratio provided by Putrajaya recently, saying the reality on the ground may not be fully reflected by the number. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUCHING, Aug 5 — A Sarawak MP today has criticised the doctor-to-population ratio provided by Putrajaya recently, saying the reality on the ground may not be fully reflected by the number.

DAP’s Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said although the announced ratio was one doctor to every 454 people in the country, the ratios in Sabah and Sarawak are actually 1:856 and 1:662 respectively.

“If we were to look at it at a micro-level, especially state by state, we will find a different picture,” he told the press here.

“If we go on a more micro-level, and even analyse the urban-rural disparity we will get a closer picture that 45.6 per cent or 98 out of 215 rural clinics in Sarawak do not even have a doctor, and is only run by medical assistants and nurses.”

Dr Yii was responding to yesterday’s statement by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba claiming that the ratio has surpassed the prescribed 1:500 ration recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The minister had 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.

Yii also said MOH needs to look at the shortages of manpower in other departments as indicated by the Auditor-General’s Report in 2018, citing the Emergency and Trauma Department as being understaffed, underfunded and overworked.

He said this will lead to burnouts, which affect the quality of care given to the patients.

He said there are other limbs that need to be taken into consideration including comprehensive population coverage, adequate health care services and also affordable access to healthcare so to achieve the universal health coverage.

“What is more important is actually the distribution of doctors and healthcare workers especially in places of needs especially in the rural areas,” he said, adding that the ministry must make sure that the distribution of healthcare workers are proportionately done throughout the country.

“I also do hope that MOH will not use this ratio as an excuse not to absorb more healthcare workers into public service as we still are in urgent need of greater investment to public healthcare including our human resource.”

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