'Doctor-to-people ratio to exceed target by 2020'

KLUANG - Malaysia is expected to surpass the World Health Organisation's (WHO) recommended doctor-to-population ratio of 1:600 by 2020, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said yesterday.

He said the ratio in Malaysia now stood at 1:800 and that the country was expected to meet WHO's recommendation by 2015.

"By 2020, the ratio is expected to reach 1:400, better than the WHO's recommendation."

Liow said Malaysia currently fulfilled only about 60 per cent of its requirement for doctors.

"We are producing some 3,500 doctors a year and are confident of fulfilling our target."

He said there were sufficient doctors to serve the people at the moment.

"The problem is the distribution of these doctors. There are still shortages in rural Sabah and Sarawak, which we are trying to address."

Liow was speaking after visiting the new Kluang Hospital.

Present were Kluang member of parliament Datuk Dr Hou Kok Chung and Johor health director Dr Mohd Khairi Yakub.

During the visit, Liow announced that the ministry would deploy another 25 doctors, including specialists and medical officers, to the existing 45 doctors at the hospital.

"Appointment of new doctors would need the approval of the Public Service Department, so I will personally meet with the director-general to expedite the appointments.

"We will also provide the hospital with a new computed tomography (CT) scan machine, which will cost about RM5 million. This is all part of the ministry's plan to make it a more complete hospital to serve the people better."

Liow also said there was a staff shortage at the hospital following the move from the old building.

"This is because the new hospital is much larger than the old one. There are 150 vacancies, including nurses and other support staff, which we will fill in stages."

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