Contract doctors can apply for Federal scholarship for specialist training


KUALA LUMPUR: All contract doctors will soon be able to apply for Federal scholarships to pursue specialist training as Malaysia aims to have 28,000 specialists in ten years, says Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

He said allowing contract doctors to receive Federal scholarships was among the solutions taken by the government to resolve the plight of contract doctors, besides granting them contract extensions.

"The Federal scholarship application was only given to permanent medical officers while contract doctors could only proceed through parallel pathways on their own.

"Now, we want to give them the same facilities so that they are eligible to apply for the Federal scholarship to pursue specialist training at public universities.

"This is for their future and it is among the things that were demanded and anticipated," Khairy told the Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday (Sept 15).

He added that this was also in line with the government's aim to increase the number of specialists serving in the public healthcare system, which stood at 6,183 doctors as of 2019.

"Now, if we total up the number of specialists in the public sector with those in the private sector, we have about 13,000.

"This is why we have issues such as long wait times at hospitals to consult specialists," he said.

Khairy added that with the aim to have 28,000 specialists in the public health sector in 2030, there was a need for the Finance Ministry to give a commitment to enable sponsored training for these doctors.

"The Finance Ministry must give commitment so that we can train these doctors to become specialists to meet our needs 10 years from now whereby our disease burden will increase along with rising incidents of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), the ageing population as well as infectious and non-infectious diseases," he said.

Earlier, Rusnah Aluai (PH-Tangga Batu) had asked Khairy what were the steps being taken by the ministry to ensure a better future for contract doctors and whether the lack of doctors were the reason for long waiting times at public hospitals.

To a question by Abdul Latiff Abdul Rahman (PAS-Kuala Krai) on why doctors quit the public sector, Khairy said higher remuneration in the private sector was a factor.

"We have been increasing allowances for our specialists but of course it cannot match the pay offered by the private sector.

"We also give permission for our specialists to work one day a week in the private sector to get extra income.

"We have to keep looking at more ways on how to ensure that they stay in the public health care system," he said.

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