Govt hospitals short of optometrists, says minister

Health minister Dzulkefly Ahmad with participants in an eye-health campaign at Assam Jawa community hall today. (Bernama pic)

KUALA SELANGOR: The number of optometrists at government hospitals’ eye specialist clinics nationwide is 310 and is considered low, according to health minister Dzulkefly Ahmad. He said the shortage had led to an increase in the workload of optometrists and indirectly reduced the effectiveness of the health system in the country.

“Patients have to wait longer at government hospitals for treatment, as the number of patients referred to eye specialist clinics by health clinics increases every year,” he told a press conference after the closing ceremony of the National Eye Health Awareness Campaign today.

Dzulkefly said public and private cooperation should be utilised for eye health services to be carried out effectively.

“Nationwide there are about 2,000 optometrists working in private clinics and hospitals, and they can be used for routine eye examinations and screening such as for red eyes, dry eyes, and cases of eye damage due to diabetes and hypertension complications,” he said. .

At today’s event, about 670 people from the B40 lower-income group received free spectacles.

Malaysian Optometrist Association president Woon Pak Seong. said the association had pledged to build closer collaboration with the government to help address vision problems and eye diseases.

“The Health Ministry has approximately 310 optometrists who handle about 8 million patients a year and the AMO believes that with the combined efforts of private optometrists, the blindness statistics and vision problems can be controlled and minimised,” he said.