A total of 1,441 government doctors have quit the service between 2008 and August this year, citing a number of reasons.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday that among the reasons were continuing their studies, serving as lecturers at public or private institutions of higher learning or because of personal problems.
Statistics showed that 452 doctors quit in 2008, 338 in 2009, 386 last year and 265 in the first eight months of this year.
Rosnah was replying to Mohd Nor Othman (BN-Hulu Terengganu), who wanted to know the number of government doctors who had resigned since 2008 and the reasons.
She said the ministry had set a target ratio of one doctor for every 400 patients by 2020, adding that it was possible to achieve this.
To achieve the target, 87,177 medical officers would be needed by 2020, when the country's population is projected to reach 35 million. It was reported earlier that there were some 30,000 doctors at present.
President of the recently de-registered Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), Dr Mary Suma Cardosa, felt that the numbers were not alarming for now.
"Assuming that the majority of doctors who left government service did go into private practice, what is of greater concern is whether a large number of those who resigned were specialists as the imbalance between the private and public sectors in terms of specialists will be made worse as a result," she told the New Straits Times.
MMA immediate past president Dr David Quek believed that the lack off a proper training structure and career path development were expected to compel more doctors to leave government service.
"Most of them, when they complete their compulsory service, will want to leave. Training and career path structure -- the ministry needs to seriously look into this."
He added that there were only 600 to 800 postgraduate training positions in the country, in stark contrast to the 3,000 to 5,000 medical students who graduate every year.