Malaysia lacks neuropsychiatric specialists, says Health Minister

PETALING JAYA (Bernama) – Malaysia is desperately lacking neuropsychiatric specialists, and this is highly worrying especially with the increasing number of patients in need of assistance every year, said Malaysia’s Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.

He said there are about 300 psychiatrists serving in the public sector but only four are specialists in the field of neuropsychiatry.

“In addition, there will be three neuropsychiatric trainees who will qualify within three years.

“Efforts to increase the number of neuropsychiatric experts are going at a very slow pace, and the need for these experts is rapidly increasing,” he said.

He was speaking at a press conference after launching the Neuropsychiatry Masterclass 2019 programme yesterday, which was also attended by Kuala Lumpur Hospital (HKL) Director Dr Heric Corray.

Neuropsychiatry is a psychiatric sub-field that is an overlap between psychiatry, neurology and general medicine.

Malaysia’s Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (2nd L) listens to a briefing by Neuropsychiatry Masterclass Organising Chairman Dr Chee Kok Yoon (R) after launching the Neuropsychiatry Masterclass 2019 programme. Also seen is Kuala Lumpur Hospital (HKL) Director Dr Heric Corray (L). – BERNAMA

It is a psychiatric field dedicated to conducting clinical and treatment assessments to neurologic patients showing cognitive manifestations, emotional and behavioural changes. Dr Dzulkefly said the four neuropsychiatric specialists were now one each in Penang and Johor and two in Kuala Lumpur.

Hence, he said the government was intensifying its efforts to increase the number of neuropsychiatric experts to meet the pressing demand.

On the programme, he said it was an annual event organised by the Neuropsychiatric and Neuromodulatory Unit (NEURON) and the HKL Psychiatric Welfare Body since 2015.

He said the programme aims to share knowledge and increase participants’ awareness on how to evaluate and treat neuropsychiatric patients, as this discipline was not widely known in Malaysia.

Among the examples of neuropsychiatric problems commonly encountered are emotional, cognitive, hallucinatory and delusional symptoms caused by Parkinson’s disease, emotional problems caused by epilepsy, young onset of dementia and behavioural changes due to brain injury and infections.