Malaysia needs 560 cardiologists

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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia needs 560 cardiologists, up from the current total of 180, based on the high morbidity and mortality from heart disease in Malaysia, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said yesterday.He said that at the norm of one cardiologist for every 50,000 population in the country, the total was still very low, and added that only 26 of the 180 cardiologists were working with the ministry.

“This means that less than 15 per cent of the cardiologists in the country, employed by the ministry, are handling about 60 per cent of the coronary heart disease cases nationwide,” he told reporters after officiating at the 14th Annual Scientific Meeting of the National Heart Association of Malaysia, here.

Heart disease and diseases of the pulmonary circulation are the top killers in hospitals, accounting for 16.54 per cent of all deaths recorded in government hospitals.

At present, 21 physicians were undergoing training in cardiology and there was a fellowship for a three-year training programme.

The yearly intake of trainees now was five to six people, he said.

“In the effort to deliver good health service to the people, the ministry has developed a fairly comprehensive cardiac programme which is not only readily accessible but also affordable.

“The ministry will continue to strengthen the programme under the 10th Malaysia Plan,” he said.

He also said that the ministry planned to establish cardiology units at the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital in Ipoh and the Sultanah Nur Zahirah Hospital in Kuala Terengganu under the 10th plan.

The ministry would also further develop the cardiology services at the Tengku Ampuan Afzan Hospital in Kuantan and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kota Kinabalu, while the services at the Sultanah Aminah Hospital in Johor Baharu were being upgraded, he added.

When asked about the relationship and cooperation between the National Heart Institute (IJN) and the ministry, he said IJN worked closely with the ministry.

“When we do referral cases from other hospitals, we can also refer to IJN and the same goes for IJN patients, who can be referred to government hospitals,” he said.

Liow explained that IJN was under the ministry in terms of patients and services while in terms of finance it reported to the Finance Ministry.

The minister also said that Malaysia did not face the second wave of Influenza H1N1 and that the ministry monitored the situation constantly. — Bernama