So why won’t doctors serve in Sarawak?

Dr. Hilmi, the Deputy Health Minister laments Many doctors unwilling to serve in Sarawak

Many doctors including Sarawakian professionals shun serving in the state and this had resulted in a relatively high 1:1,500 doctor patient ratio.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya said Peninsular Malaysians who completed their residency or after serving two or so years in Sarawak had the tendency to request for a transfer out of the state.
The entire situation is worsened when Sarawakian doctors also preferred to serve in West Malaysia instead of their home state, he told a news conference after an official visit at the Sarawak General Hospital here on Saturday.
Dr Hilmi did not go into the reasons why most doctors had favoured hospitals in Peninsular Malaysia as their workplace.
He, however, said the ministry had offered allowances and incentives to encourage doctors to be stationed in Sarawak.
“Even though the ministry does not encourage them to pick where they want to serve, we do not force them into making certain decision either.”
In Peninsular Malaysia, he said the doctor-patient ratio stood at 1:700, still slightly higher than the objective of achieving 1:600.
Dr Hilmi said the ministry had policies in place to send West Malaysian medical students, who completed their training to serve in Sarawak.
“But two years later, they put in a transfer request back to West Malaysia.”

“Dr Hilmi did not go into the reasons why most doctors had favoured hospitals in Peninsular Malaysia” – well my guess is if you want to solve any problem, you really have to find out the reasons. Just providing incentives and allowances is not going to be enough.
I suspect many return to West Malaysia because of training opportunities. They are young doctors and they need to think about their future and career. Post-graduate training, Masters courses – it’s mainly in West Malaysia where that’s happening.
Another major reason is West Malaysian doctors return to West Malaysia simply because they want to be closer to family and home, which is a natural inclination.
While the latter can’t be changed, perhaps addressing the training opportunities or really giving priority to entrance into Masters courses for those who have served in rural areas is something the MOH needs to seriously look into.


Malaysian physician, haematologist, blogger, web and tech enthusiast