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Malaysian-Irish Partnership in Family Medicine Training
An adequate supply of well trained Family doctors is essential to achieving universal health coverage for the Malaysian population. Family doctors working in the community are the best first contact for all patients’ physical, pyschological, emotional and social needs; providing care close to the patients’ homes and at a cost that is affordable.They offer the knowledge and skills to manage chronic diseases like Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease and Mental Health issues, and to care for families from early childhood right through to old age. With a rising population in Malaysia and increased life expectancy, family medicine is the key to a healthy population.
In 2018, the Ministry of Health Malaysia signed a Malaysia-Ireland partnership with RCSI & UCD Malaysia Campus(RUMC), inviting RUMC, the Irish College Of General Practitioners (ICGP) and iheed in Ireland to establish a new pathway for postgraduate Family Medicine training for doctors in Malaysia, to be known as Malaysia-Ireland Training Programme for Family Medicine (MInTFM).
“Family Medicine is the cornerstone of all efficient health care systems. Evidence shows that primary care effectively helps prevent illness and death,” said Professor David Whitford, President, CEO & Registrar of RUMC. “The means by which primary care improves health includes increasing access to health services fo relatively deprived population groups, improved quality of clinical care, its impact on prevention, its impact on the early management of health problems, and the contribution of primary care to more appropriate care, thereby reducing unnecessary or inappropriate specialty care,” added Professor Whitford.
With a population of thirty-two million people, Malaysia is still lacking in Family Medicine specialists. There are currently over 700 Family Medicine specialists serving in public and private facilities nationwide. This is nowhere near the need for Malaysia’s population of one Family Medicine specialist to 4000 population. Understanding this, the program is hoped to adresss this pressing need. For the past year, suitable centres and trainers have been identified and accredited to deliver the MInTFM training. Its curriculum is designed to meet the healthcare needs of Malaysia’s rising population.
“The MInTFM programme is a major step in the right direction. As Malaysia continues to move forward in every aspect, development in healthcare which includes the areas of family medicine and primary care is paramount,” said Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, Director General of Health, Ministry of Health Malaysia. “While we strive to ensure we reach a sufficient number of doctors required to meet the size of our growing population, we must also ensure these doctors are sufficiently trained and are of good quality,” added Datuk Dr Noor Hisham.
MInTFM is an exciting, world-class, international partnership programme that will introduce high quality Irish postgraduate education in the training of Family Physicians, complementing existing Malaysian FMS training programmes. The primary aim of the programme is for these doctors to serve and contribute towards the improvement of family medicine in Malaysia and having access to the expertise and knowledge of the Irish Training programme, which has been developed over the past 30 years.
The marriage of the traditional with the innovative appoach of iheed will provide the trainees with an excellent opportunity for learning and a successful career in family medicine. The collaborative nature of the programme is a reflection of the long-standing relationship between Ireland and Malaysia and the commitment to the betterment of both nation’s shared future.
The MInTFM programme was officially launched on Monday, 21 October 2019 by Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah and Her Excellency Ms Hilary Reilly, Ambassor of Ireland to Malaysia alongside Professor David Whitford, President, CEO & Registrar of RUMC; Mr Fintan Foy, CEO of ICGP; Dr Tom O’ Callaghan, CEO of iheed; and Professor Michael Keane, Chairman of RUMC.