PETALING JAYA: Malaysia does not need one doctor to 400 patients to be considered a developed country, said the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).
MMA president Datuk Dr N.K.S. Tharmaseelan said the World Health Organisation (WHO) had denied setting the ratio which is often used to justify the mushrooming of local medical colleges.
“The purported WHO statistic is often quoted to deny the fact the country had too many doctors, though it is obviously so,” he said.
Dr Tharmaseelan said WHO representative Dr Gulin Gedik, during a meeting at the Ministry of Health on Feb 27, was surprised when the issue was raised by MMA.
He said the ratio had led many countries, including Malaysia, to produce more doctors without having the infrastructure or facilities in place to train them.
“Dr Gulin assured MMA no such figure existed or would be imposed by the WHO, as there were many issues to delivering healthcare,” said Dr Tharmaseelan.
He said Malaysia’s current one doctor to 600 patients ratio should not be used to build more medical colleges as these could affect standards.
“We should instead amalgamate the existing colleges into a sustainable level,” he said.
He said more emphasis should be put on raising the standards and quality of training provided to doctors and allied health professionals rather than aiming at an Utopian goal.
Dr Tharmaseelan also pointed out that the problem plaguing the Malaysian healthcare system was the reluctance of doctors to serve in rural areas including Sabah and Sarawak. He said there were wards in urban government hospitals which had up to 100 doctors when they just needed 20 or 30.
“The authorities should compel new doctors especially those who obtained government scholarships to serve in rural hospitals,” he said.
He also called on the Education Ministry to strictly enforce the five-year moratorium on medical colleges and gradually reduce the number of admissions to medical colleges.