'It's not rocket science, Health Minister need not be a doctor', says Malaysia's new health minister

Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad thanked Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for the appointment, which he did not expect at all. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad believes his background in Science puts him in good stead to helm the Health Ministry.

"We are not here to solve complex medical problems. We are here to (enable) the strategic management and the delivery of the health system," he said.

Dr Dzulkefly, 62, said previous health ministers were not medical doctors either but were still able to lead the ministry well.

"Ask who is Datuk Chua Jui Meng (Health Minister from 1995 to 2004)? He was a lawyer. Who is Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai (Health Minister from 2008 to 2013)? He was a nutritionist."

Dr Dzulkefly cut his teeth as a medical scientist.

He has a Bachelor of Science degree from University of Birmingham, a Master of Science degree from University of Surrey, and doctorate in Medical Science (Toxicology) from Imperial College (St Mary's Hospital Medical School).

He was a lecturer at the Faculty of Medical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia, and Universiti Sains Malaysia Hospital (HUSM) in the 1980s and 1990s.

Dr Dzulkefly thanked Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for the appointment, which he did not expect at all.

Asked why he thought the Prime Minister picked him, Dr Dzulkefly said: "I appreciate him putting his trust in me.

"Given my academic background, my political involvement and my role as strategic director for Parti Amanah Negara, I think he considered all those factors.

"If he wanted a medical doctor, he would've chosen someone else. But he chose a medical scientist.

"I think he knows the ministry is not alien to me. He knows I am someone who understands the ministry's task."

In GE14, Dr Dzulkefly defeated Barisan Nasional incumbent Datuk Seri Dr Irmohizam Ibrahim for the Kuala Selangor parliamentary seat, winning by a 8,498-vote majority.

When asked about the reforms he would carry out, Dr Dzulkefly said he would reveal these soon.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr Ravindran R. Naidu urged the new government to address the quality and the excessive number of medical graduates.

He said the number of admissions to medical schools should be reduced with only students who had good results allowed to take up medicine.

The delay in postings and employment of housemen and the fate of the doctors on contract after four years also needed to be addressed, he added.

"More funds should also be allocated in human capital development at all levels from doctors, medical assistants and nurses who have been providing excellent service.

"The promotion process should be reviewed with transparency, without any favouritism and based on performance, seniority, and merit," he added.

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