Sarawak offers scholarships to 40 medical students

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Forty students of medicine have been provided with educational scholarships by the state government of Sarawak in Malaysia. This is part of the government’s efforts to boost the number of doctors in Sarawak.

The state currently has a ratio of one doctor for about 800 people as compared to the national ratio of 1:600, according to Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

“There’s a big gap there and therefore the state government has decided to give scholarships to our students who are eligible to pursue medical studies,” he said at the scholarship presentation ceremony at Wisma Bapa Malaysia.

The first batch of recipients was 40 Sarawakian students admitted to the medical programme at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) this year.

Abang Johari said they comprised about 60% of Unimas’ medical student intake this year.

“This is quite a historic occasion that the state government is giving out 40 scholarships in one go. This is a result of our own analysis and the government’s mission to provide good medical services to the people.

“In future, we will continue to provide scholarships to medical students.

“We hope that eventually, you will become specialists and give back to the people,” he told the students in his speech, adding the scholarships were worth RM4mil.

Abang Johari also said the state government was emphasising human capacity building in order to improve services to the people.

“We are serious in wanting to give the right training to our students. This year, we will also give scholarships for new courses to potential students who can play a part in our transformation programme, including going into the digital economy,” he said.

Yayasan Sarawak director Azmi Bujang said the scholarship programme was one of the state government’s strategic initiatives to meet Sarawak’s development needs.

He said Sarawak would require 7,282 doctors by 2020 when the state’s population is expected to reach three million.

“The shortfall is estimated at 4,350 doctors. Currently, out of the 3,282 serving doctors in the state, only 70% are Sarawakians.Of course the state government would very much like to improve the 70% to a higher percentage in the near future,” he said.

To address this disparity, Azmi said, the state government will undertake to provide scholarships to eligible medical students at Unimas.

“Upon graduation and their housemanship, these doctors are required to serve in Sarawak for a minimum period of 10 years,” he said.

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