KOTA KINABALU, Sept 22 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) needs about 8,000 family medicine specialists to be placed in its clinics in an effort to provide the best treatment and services to the community, especially in rural areas.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that in order to achieve the target, the MOH is currently increasing the capacity of family medicine specialists through family medicine master’s programmes at local universities and parallel pathway training programme in collaboration with overseas colleges.

It is estimated that between 100 and 120 family medicine graduates would be produced each year under the parallel pathway programme while about 100 under the master’s programme at local universities, he said.

“We started with 42 facilities that had family medicine specialists but now we have almost 1,100 family medicine specialists and almost 700 specialists at MOH.

“We want at least two specialists in one clinic so that they can lead medical officers and be able to improve the quality of services as well as carry out outreach programmes in the interior areas,” he told a press conference after launching the 24th Family Medicine Scientific (FMS) conference at the Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC) here today.

Meanwhile, on the proposed Control of Tobacco Product and Smoking Bill 2022, Dr Noor Hisham said it aimed at preventing the new generation from picking up smoking habit.

“For the old generation, we are not disturbing what ever been done in the past...we are focusing on the new generation, those born in 2007,” he said.

The bill, which was tabled for its first reading in the Dewan Rakyat by Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin on July 27, seeks to prohibit those born on and after Januarty 1, 2007, from purchasing or possessing cigarettes or vape products. — Bernama