PUTRAJAYA: The health ministry is striving to overcome the shortage of cardiologists in government hospitals to cater to the rising number of cases of heart attacks, which have become the No 1 cause of deaths in the country, Health Minister Dr S Subramaniam said today.
The country has 300 cardiologists, but government hospitals only had 38 cardiologists, 17 surgeons and 19 anaesthetists, he said, adding that the rest were in private hospitals.
The ministry was encouraging doctors to further their studies and become heart specialists to meet the shortage, he said at his weekly press conference here.
“We will continue with the process of providing training to new doctors to increase the number of cardiologists. Annually, 25 to 30 cardiologists graduate from universities.
“What happens is that they graduate, get good experience at government hospitals and then move on to serve in private hospitals. It does not matter though as they are also attending to Malaysians,” he said.
Subramaniam said in 2015, a total of 151,651 cases of ischemic heart disease were attended to at facilities of the ministry, up from 139,460 in 2013.
“Statistics show that people who die from heart disease are between 50 and 60 years. This is actually premature death. I urge the people to take care of their heart and cardiovascular health,” he said.
Subramaniam said the ministry would set up a new heart treatment centre with 262 beds at the Serdang Hospital, and it was expected to be ready in three years.
The government had set up seven heart treatment centres, according to zones, at the Penang Hospital, Serdang Hospital, Sultan Aminah Hospital in Johor Bahru, Sarawak General Hospital, Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Kota Kinabalu, Raja Perempuan Zainab II Hospital in Kota Bahru and Tengku Ampuan Afzan Hospital in Kuantan, he said.
“All the seven heart treatment centres provide cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery and anaesthesiology services,” he said.
Non-invasive cardiology services were also provided at three hospitals, namely Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital in Alor Setar, Sultanah Nur Zahirah Hospital in Kuala Terengganu and Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital in Ipoh, he said.
Subramaniam said the ministry was raising awareness of the risk factors that were the cause of heart attacks, such as obesity, smoking, hypertension and high cholesterol.
“The government spent RM137 million on heart disease treatment at 10 heart centres of the ministry last year,” he said.
The minister also said World Heart Day 2017 would be observed on Sept 29 (Friday).