Higher Education Ministry’s plan to produce more medical specialists

The Higher Education Ministry has developed a medical specialist training strategy to train and produce more specialist doctors in Malaysia, said its minister Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kad said

He said that local higher learning institutions produced a total of 7,935 Masters of Medicine degree holders as of last year, reported Utusan Malaysia.

In 2022, there were 8,972 medical specialists in the country. The Ministry of Health plans to raise this number to 19,174 by 2030.

“Currently, there are 11 public universities that offers medical study programmes in their respective medicine faculty, eight of which offer Masters in Medicine and Masters/Doctorate in Medicine,” he said.

The eight public universities include Universiti Malaya (UM), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), International Islamic University Malaysia (UIAM), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Unimas, and Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS).

Zambry said that the initiative aims to increase the number of specialist study slots by the Ministry of Health. They had previously agreed to raise slots for the Master of Medicine Program to 150 each year.

Zambry also said this initiative will strengthen the management of medical specialist programs to meet the growing demand.

He explained that the plan involves enhancing the quality of specialist training across 95 programs.

Out of these, 91 are conducted at public universities, while the remaining ones are offered at private higher education institutions accredited by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) and recognized by the Malaysian Medical Council.

Zambry said that public universities offer 28 areas of expertise, excluding Urology, out of a total of 29. These include Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, Neurosurgery, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Oncology, and Orthopedics.

“In order to accommodate the shortage of medical specialists, the Ministry of Health approved the implementation of parallel pathway expertise training in 14 fields to support the plan towards increasing the country’s medical experts,” he said.

He mentioned two systems for medical program expertise training: the parallel pathway from the Ministry of Health and existing courses at public universities accredited by MQA.

Zambry added that his ministry is prepared to assist with both systems.

“Previously, the Cabinet had also agreed that matters related to this parallel pathway would be coordinated by the Ministry of Health. However, the Higher Education Ministry is always ready to help.

“UiTM has also received the Temporary Accreditation Certificate for the Master of Science in Surgery (cardiothoracic) and Doctorate in Cardiothoracic Surgery programmes on August 13, 2020 by MQA,” he said.

He added that with this approval, UiTM is recognised as a higher education centre for cardiothoracic specialist training.

On May 27, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Dzulkefly Ahmad announced that amendments will be made to the Medical Act 1971 to address issues with the parallel pathway program.

On May 29, Zambry stated that two issues need addressing: recognizing the cardiothoracic parallel pathway program and registering doctors who completed the program with National Specialist Register (NSR).

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