FOR a long time now, the Health Minister, the director-general of Health and the medical fraternity have mulled over the need to train more medical specialists in various fields to meet the growing demand of patients in public hospitals who may currently have to wait for many months before getting specialist treatment.
The situation in rural and suburban hospitals is critical especially in the various fields of surgery.
Some surgeons cover two states and almost all states lack surgeons in all disciplines. Some heart patients have to wait for six months to a year before they can have their operation. The situation is no different even at the National Heart Institute.
While the rakyat appreciates and understands the need to trim budgets due to the challenging economic times – drastic drop in government revenue arising from declining fuel and commodity prices – it is imperative that we do not trim budgets for critical services such as health and education.
Speculation is rife that the Health Ministry will be reducing the number of sponsorships for the master’s programme in 2016.
This is really frustrating especially for those medical officers who have served more than five years but are still unable to get into the master’s programme.
I sincerely hope the Health Ministry will reconsider its decision and instead increase the number of places for the master’s programme as it takes four years of training to be a medical specialist and an additional year before they are gazetted and accredited as specialists.
There are many other non-critical areas and expenses that can be trimmed to reduce the budget.
Moreover, the fees are paid by the Health Ministry to local public universities. Thus, the money is going from the left pocket into the right pocket, and both pockets are owned by the Government. It will be appreciated if the officials concerned take this matter seriously.