Alternative pathways to overcome the lack of specialists in Sarawak

Vacancies for specialists: Sarawak hospitals are facing a shortage of specialists.

KUCHING: The Government is making efforts to step up the training of local doctors as specialists to overcome the shortage in Sarawak.

Assistant Health Minister Datuk Dr Jerip Susil said the Health Ministry had doubled the number of places for specialist Master’s programmes in the state from 300 to 600 starting this year.

He said the ministry also encouraged medical officers to take up alternative pathways towards specialist qualifications by sitting for overseas examinations such as Membership of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP) and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (MRCOG).

In addition, he said the ministry had commenced a specialist grooming programme whereby medical officers can be placed in referral hospitals or specialist clinics as preparation for further studies in specialisation.

“Medical officers who serve in district hospitals in Sarawak have the advantage of receiving extra marks in the selection for Master’s programmes,” he told Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail (BN-Bukit Kota) in the State Legislative Assembly yesterday.

To a supplementary question, Dr Jerip said there were currently 248 specialists distributed among the major hospitals in the state, comprising the Sarawak General Hospital, Sibu Hospital and Miri Hospital, as well as several divisional hospitals.

He said there were also 942 medical officers and 499 house officers throughout the state.

On vacancies for specialists, he said there were none at present.

“But this doesn’t mean we do not need more specialists.

“It is because it takes time to create specialist posts, so we have some specialists who are currently serving as senior medical officers because the posts have not been created yet.”

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