I am at all not surprised to be advised of Deputy Health Minister Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad's statement that there are only 39 oncologists in the country, including 16 in government hospitals, when it should have at least 100 specialists in the field.
It is a noted fact, that based on an equitable ratio, the Malaysian ratio should be one oncologist for 250,000 people. This is based on the country's population (excluding the alleged illegal element of 2.5 million).
With our population of 24 million, it is a fact that Malaysia should have at least 100 oncologists.
As far as I am aware, we have 21 centres for radiotherapy and oncology in public and private hospitals. The Health Ministry operates two centres in hospitals and three in universities.
I am also aware that a national cancer institute is also being planned for cancer research and treatment. This is in addition to the Oncological Unit at Putrajaya Hospital, which is the premier centre for cancer treatment in the country.
This is also all well and good, but I think our politicians should not bite off more than they can chew. I am, of course, referring to the primary issue of employment by the Health Ministry.
While we can always seek more doctors, they may not want to join government service what with its penchant to employ, promote and transfer doctors not based on merit but on racial background.
We have already lost a great number of specialists in government service to the private sector and I will go on record to state that very soon we will be losing several more. The fact is, when such a experienced specialist leaves, the entire unit folds up due to both low morale and a lack of a suitable replacement.
The real losers are not the politicians or the puppet masters pulling the various strings in the social engineering process but the ratepayers of Malaysia.
The writer is the president of the Consumers Association of Subang and Shah Alam (Cassa).