To curtail a shortage in pharmacists at government hospitals, Malaysia has instituted a new law requiring pharmacy graduates to spend three years working in the public sector before being allowed to move on to the private sector. Only about 19% of practicing pharmacists work in the public sector, creating a critical dearth of manpower. Vacancy rates have reached critical levels, climbing to well over 50% in some states.
Action is also being taken to raise the salaries of public sector pharmacists and bring them closer to the higher wages of the private sector. Health minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng said that private pharmacies would be affected in the short term, but will benefit overall because new pharmacists will be more experienced. He said, “The three years’ compulsory service will allow newly-registered pharmacists an invaluable opportunity to gain priceless professional experience in regulatory, community and clinical pharmacy [fields] available in the public sector which are not available to them in the private sector.”