PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry is considering providing incentives to encourage the private sector to set up community pharmacies in rural areas.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said such incentives was necessary to overcome a shortage of pharmacies in rural areas.
"The Ministry views the situation (lack of pharmacies in rural areas) seriously as many such pharmacies are only mushrooming in the city and concentrated in certain regions," he told reporters after opening the 100th Cosway Pharmacy outlet in Damansara, near here, on Sunday.
Liow in his speech text that was read by the Health Ministry's Pharmaceutical services division senior director Datuk Eisah A Rahman, said according to the ministry's statistics, there were 10,006 registered pharmacies and 1,834 community pharmacies throughout the country.
The concentration of community pharmacies is in Selangor (where there are 433 pharmacies), Penang (213), Kuala Lumpur (201) and Johor (157).
Realising the lack of pharmacies in rural areas and the inequitable distribution, the Health Ministry was looking into a zoning system to distribute pharmacies accordingly in urban and rural areas so that the people would not be deprived of such facilities, Liow said.
To ensure an equitable distribution of pharmacies in the country, the ministry and the Malaysian Pharmacy Association had developed the Malaysian Healthcare Providers Mapping Service.
Currently, the ratio of pharmacists to the population in Malaysia is 1:2,947 people and by 2016 it is expected to reach the optimum ratio of 1:2,000 people set by the World Health Organisation. - Bernama
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