#3: Increasing Medical Specialists in Malaysia: Beware of Vicious Cycle

The shortage of medical specialists in Malaysia remains a long-standing issue. However, due to the revamp of parallel pathway training programmes and an oversupply of medical officers, we may foresee a significant increase of medical specialists in the next decade. Nevertheless, increasing medical specialists alone will not lead to better access of quality specialised care if the issues of specialist training, the disproportion of specialists in public/private sectors, maldistribution in the type of specialties and subspecialties, and geographical imbalance of specialists are not dealt with by the government. These issues could be minimised by having a proper assessment and planning for human resources in an early stage, followed by the right policies to implement corrective actions. Therefore, the government is urged to increase the training capacity of the specialist training and conduct a long-term needs assessment of specialists to control the quality and quantity of our future specialists. Efforts should also be made to retain specialists, especially those with subspecialties, in the public sector. Finally, a transparent and equitable human resources management system is indeed necessary to sustain a stable and balanced healthcare system in place.

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