GEORGE TOWN, June 12 – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has announced that the Public Service Department (JPA) will continue its sponsorship for students in the fields of medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy. The decision was made based on the ongoing needs in these sectors within the country. Anwar revealed that during a special meeting between himself and JPA last week, it was clarified that the termination of the sponsorship was based on an existing policy. However, considering the projected demand for professionals in the medical, dental, and pharmacy fields, Anwar requested a review of the policy.

“This means that the JPA scholarship program for these sectors will continue,” stated Anwar during the Temu Anwar@USM program held at the Syed Putra Hall in Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) on Sunday. The event was attended by over 5,000 students from USM and various higher education institutions across the country.  Anwar addressed the issue in response to a question raised by a participant regarding the government’s decision to halt JPA sponsorship in medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy, following a study by the Ministry of Health (MOH) that predicted an overwhelming number of medical officers between 2026 and 2030.

On Saturday, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah, Sarawak Affairs, and Special Duties) Datuk Armizan Mohd Ali had stated that the Health Indicators Report 2022 indicated a ratio of 1:420 between the total number of medical personnel and the total population until December 2021. It is projected to reach a ratio of 1:400 in 2025. However, on Sunday, Health Minister Dr. Zaliha Mustafa mentioned that the Ministry of Health is currently in discussions with JPA regarding the decision to terminate the sponsorship.

The decision will be reviewed in light of a 2019 study and the changes that have occurred, particularly in the post-Covid-19 era. In another announcement during the event, Prime Minister Anwar emphasized the importance of student autonomy in universities. He stated that universities should provide a more open and free environment for students to express their views. Anwar has discussed this matter with Higher Education Minister Khaled Nordin and vice-chancellors of public universities.

Anwar acknowledged the need for student corners in public universities, allowing students to have platforms to voice their opinions on national issues. He believes that granting students the space to contribute their thoughts and criticisms will elevate the quality of universities.

Pocket News