KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia needs more family medicine specialists to enhance public health and primary care for the population.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said the country has only 500 doctors in public hospitals and private practice who specialise in family medicine but it needs at least 1,500 more over the next few years.
He said the matter was already being discussed at post-Cabinet meetings. “These specialists, or family doctors, are the first line of defence against non-communicable diseases. It is important to support them,“ he said at a press conference after launching the 5th Asean Regional Primary Care Conference here today.
Dzulkefly said the government needed to provide them with the necessary training after they graduated.
He also appealed to doctors who are already practising family medicine to persuade their younger colleagues to pursue a career in the same field of medicine. “We will provide all the necessary support and we welcome any collaborative effort on this matter,“ he added.
He said physicians should focus on primary healthcare as it is the foundation of a strong healthcare system that can meet the people’s needs and expectations.
Family medicine focuses on providing comprehensive healthcare for people of all ages. Those who specialise in it are called family physicians or family doctors.
On a separate note, Dzulkefly said a study to determine the viability of making vaccination compulsory is likely to be ready by the next quarter of this year.
“There are nine parameters to be covered. We also need the feedback from the various stakeholders and the other ministries,“ he pointed out.
“Everything must be handled judiciously and that includes the legal aspects, findings, options and even penalties for failure to comply, and that is not something that is easy to handle,“ he added.
He said he is getting regular updates from the task force that is managing the study. It is led by the ministry’s Disease Control and Family Health Development Divisions.