Students can also explore public health and biomedical fields

PETALING JAYA: Public health and biomedical fields are among medicine-related courses, which university-bound students can explore and give equal impact to the healthcare system, says an expert.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Prof Dr Sharifa Ezat Wan Puteh said most school-leavers who were interested in healthcare would normally only target for a medical degree, which has now become highly competitive.

The public health expert said these students could explore biomedical or even bio-engineering courses that are also important keystones in the healthcare system.“The biomedical field is very wide as it touches different aspects of the healthcare system and is mostly working behind the scenes. For example, the professions that require biomedical skills are medical device technicians and biomedical engineers who could innovate new health technologies,” she said.

She added that among the factors that students were fixed on medicine was due to limited awareness on other health-related professions as well as concerns on future job opportunities.

Prof Sharifa said that most private healthcare companies would always need manpower from these sectors as the technology keeps on evolving.

“Most people might be attracted to medicine because they feel like the career pathway is clear and job opportunities are more stable, especially in the public health sector. But the situation has now changed. More opportunities are also available within the private sector,” she added.

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She also said that Malaysia should start offering public health courses from the undergraduate level as opposed to them being available for postgraduates only currently.

“In Malaysia, the public health courses are mainly offered for Master’s and PhD levels, not undergraduate studies.

“We need to start looking into this and maybe start offering the course as early as from the foundation level so that students can enrol for their undergraduate studies,” she said.

She also highlighted that Malaysia was in need of more talents within several other health-related fields such as psychology, dentistry, nursing and pharmacy, among others.

She said the government must play its role to further improve the policies to encourage even more foreign investors from the health-related companies to start their businesses here.

“It must go hand in hand. If we offer various medical-related degrees to produce the talents, the job opportunities, too, must complement that supply of talents.“This is where the government comes into play, to make it easy for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) companies to operate in Malaysia.

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“We need to start looking into producing our own medical devices, vaccines or medicines. This way, we don’t need to rely heavily on other nations. We could learn something from the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said.

Malaysian Pharmacists Society (MPS) president Amrahi Buang said that within the next 15 years, when the Health White Paper is being implemented, there would be need for more manpower in other medical-related fields.

He said this would include pharmacy, which students can consider taking for their undergraduate studies.

“The students can consider taking up pharmacy for their degree. Our Health White Paper is moving in the right direction, where there will be more emphasis on public health and guided self-care.

“This is when there will be a need for pharmacists,” he added.

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