PUTRAJAYA (Bernama) – The country needs another 900 psychiatrists to meet the international standard ratio of such medical specialists to mental patients at 1:50,000.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam said there were now 300 psychiatrists in Malaysia and hence, their ratio to patients was 1:150,000.
“The new target should be met soon. We will source more psychiatrists from the institutions of higher learning as well as other programmes to generate greater interest in the field,” he said at a news conference after launching the Asean Mental Health Campaign 2014 yesterday.
According to the Health Ministry, since 2011, there were 340,000 Malaysians who were not treated despite having mental health problems while the number of patients treated was extremely small and this was worrying, he added.
Dr Subramaniam said of greater concern was the rising number of cases among children aged five to 15 years, a rise of 13 per cent in 1996, 19.3 per cent in 2006 and 20 per cent in 2011.
“It is said that one in every five children has mental problem and the matter needs to be addressed quickly as they in the growing stage.”
Therefore, he said, the Health Ministry had proposed for mental health to be included as a factor for specifying overall good health.
He said with more psychiatrists, they could be stationed even at village clinics to dispense appropriate advice and medicines.
“If 30 or 40 years ago, people with mental problems were isolated from the community, we now want them to mix with other people and obtain treatment at the clinics,” he said.