PORT DICKSON: The health ministry is in talks with the public services department (JPA) over the decision to stop providing scholarships for students pursuing studies in medicine, dentistry and pharmacy, says Dr Zaliha Mustafa.
The health minister said they were discussing with JPA on the possible need to review the decision as there have been changes in the country’s needs in these fields, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic.
She added that the ministry was also prepared to review a study conducted in 2019 which projected the country having an oversupply of medical officers from 2026 to 2030.
“We know there are changes, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic.
So, there may be new things that need to be revisited in the study.
“Our worry is that the move (to halt the scholarships) may discourage students from pursuing these fields of study,” she told reporters after launching the Global Adults Tobacco Survey (GATS) here.
It was previously reported that JPA had decided to stop sponsoring students pursuing studies in medicine, dentistry and pharmacy following the study by the health ministry pertaining to the oversupply of medical officers.
Sabah and Sarawak affairs minister Armizan Ali was reported to have said that the Health Indicators 2022 report showed a 1:420 doctor-to-population ratio in the country. A 1:400 ratio was expected to be achieved in 2025.
On GATS, Zaliha said it is a household survey conducted nationwide by the ministry in collaboration with the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The Public Health Institute will conduct GATS for the second time. The first GATS was conducted in 2011. Data collection will be conducted from June 12 to July 22,” she added.
Citing the National Health and Morbidity Survey 2019, Zaliha said 4.8 million Malaysians aged 15 and above were active smokers.
GATS aims to obtain up-to-date information on tobacco use and monitor the effectiveness of tobacco control interventions, she said.
The data obtained will help the ministry strengthen the tobacco control strategy in the country.
The survey will involve 5,000 randomly selected households across the country, targeting individuals aged 15 and older.