Psychiatrists in Malaysia: The Ratio and Distribution

Ng Chong Guan, Toh Chin Lee, Benedict Francis, Tan Shean Yen

Abstract


Introduction: We are aware of the shortage of psychiatrists in Malaysia. However, there is no formal report on the distribution and ratio of psychiatrists in each state in Malaysia. We aim to do a detailed count of the number of psychiatrists in the country.

Methods: We obtained the figures for the psychiatrists practicing in the government, private and university settings by accessing the Ministry of Health database, information from the Malaysian Psychiatric Association, Malaysian Mental Health Association, National Specialist Register and websites of the respective Universities. The total number and ratio of psychiatrists per 100,000 population are calculated.

Results: There was a total of 410 registered psychiatrists in Malaysia in the private universities, private clinics, public universities and government hospitals. The state with the highest number of psychiatrists is Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur with a total of 94 psychiatrists which has a ratio of 5.24 per 100, 000 population followed by Wilayah Persekutuan Putrajaya with 3.38 per 100,000 population. The states with the least ratio of psychiatrists are Sabah with 0.54 and Kedah with 0.55 per 100, 000 population.

Conclusion: There is a discrepancy in the geographical distribution of psychiatrists in Malaysia. People living in larger, urban states have better access to mental health care whereas the smaller states face a serious lack of psychiatrists. More effort should be taken to improve mental healthcare in Malaysia as recommended by WHO with one psychiatrist for every 10, 000 population.

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Keywords


Psychiatrist; Malaysia; Count; Ratio; Distribution

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