Health Ministry discusses halted sponsorship for medical students

The Health Ministry (MOH) and the Public Service Department (JPA) are in discussions regarding the JPA’s decision to cease sponsorship for students in medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy. Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa expressed concerns that this move may discourage students from pursuing studies in these fields, which are essential for the country’s health services.

Dr Zaliha also mentioned that the MOH is willing to review a 2019 study that projected an oversupply of medical officers from 2026 to 2030. She believes that changes may have occurred since the post-Covid-19 period, which could warrant revisiting the study.

“Our worry is that the move (to halt sponsorship) may discourage students from pursuing studies,” she told reporters after launching the Global Adults Tobacco Survey (GATS) today.

The event was also attended by Health Director-General Datuk Dr Muhammad Radzi Abu Hassan and the Acting Health deputy director General (Education and Technical Support) Datuk Dr Fariza Ngah.

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According to media reports, the PSD decided to stop sponsoring students pursuing studies in medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy following the MOH’s study projecting an over-supply of medical officers from 2026 to 2030.

Datuk Armizan Mohd Ali, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah, Sarawak Affairs and Special Functions), cited the MOH’s Health Indicators 2022 report, which showed a nationwide 1:420 ratio of doctor to population (across both public and private sectors). A 1:400 ratio is expected to be achieved in 2025.

Regarding the GATS, Dr Zaliha said it is a household survey conducted nationwide by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“The Public Health Institute (IKU) will conduct the GATS for the second time. The first GATS was conducted in 2011. Data collection will be conducted from June 12 to July 22,” she said.

Dr Zaliha mentioned that the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2019 indicated that 4.8 million Malaysians aged 15 and above were active smokers. The GATS aims to obtain up-to-date information on tobacco use and monitor the effectiveness of tobacco control interventions. The data collected will be used to help the MOH strengthen the tobacco control strategy in the country.

The survey will involve approximately 5,000 randomly selected households across the country, targeting individuals aged 15 years and above.

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Lee Shuyi

Lee is an expat writer living in Thailand. She specialises in Southeast Asian news for the Thaiger. When she's not writing, Lee enjoys immersing herself in Thai culture and learning Thai.

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