PUTRAJAYA (Bernama) -- The government aims to increase the number of specialist doctors each year from 450 to 1,000, to overcome the shortage of such doctors in government hospitals nationwide.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the problem must be addressed immediately, as there was a shortage in the number of specialists present in all 142 hospitals located in small towns, in addition to meeting people's demands.

"The (current) total is not enough. For example, in the field of neurosurgery, Malaysia only has 47 specialists in hospitals like Sungai Buloh, Johor Baharu, Ipoh, Penang, Kuching and Sibu.

"This means there are other hospitals in small towns which (still) require expertise in this field...as well as other fields. I expect the increase of 1,000 specialist doctors will fill the need for specialists in the country by 2018," he told reporters here last Friday.

According to him, at present, 819 doctors had been chosen to participate in the masters program in seven universities in the country, which offer 23 fields of specialisation.

In addition, Dr Subramaniam said beginning 2014, the ministry had established the 'Parallel Pathway' to be made into a specialist training programme which was more structured.

In another development, he once again reminded the public to keep their surroundings clean, to prevent the breeding of Aedes mosquitoes.

"The 2,007 cases of dengue this week is a good sign, if it remains, despite a forecast that the number of cases will increase due to the El Nino phenomenon," he said.

Dr Subramaniam said mosquito eggs could survive in a dry place for up to six months, and only required one drop of water to hatch and become larvae.