History of Public Health Graduate Programme in Malaysia

Figure 1: Map of the World showing the countries where our graduates originate

In March 1973, ten years after the establishment of the University of Malaya Medical Centre (consisting of the Faculty of Medicine and the University Hospital), a decision was made by the Cabinet to start postgraduate courses in the Faculty of Medicine. One of the courses proposed was in the field of Public Health.

By September 1973, a postgraduate programme leading to the degree of Master of Public Health (MPH) was inaugurated and the first class (1973/74) started with seven doctors. The Master of Public Health together with the Master of Pathology and Master of Psychological Medicine are the first medical graduate programmes offered in Malaysia. 

The MPH programme during the first decade of its existence was aimed at producing competent public health specialists to serve rural areas. By 1987, the environment has so changed that at a meeting between the Director General of Health Services of Malaysia and senior staff of the Department of SPM, a new kind of public health officer was required by the Ministry of Health, namely “a multipurpose public health doctor equipped with the managerial skills and able to work in the general public health as well as hospital setting”.

By 1989, after a review of the curriculum, a new set of objectives were established for MPH programme.

The MPH Graduate should be

  1. Technically competent in the broad field of Public Health;
  2. Equipped with managerial skills;
  3. Able to function as a leader in public services;
  4. Able to work in the Public Health as well as the hospital setting; and
  5. Able to work in the district, state as well as national levels of health services.

By 1992, many changes had already taken place in the country as well as in the national health services and it was felt that all these changes had an influence on the practice of public health. It was with this in mind that a concept paper to propose “a system of education or training at the postgraduate level and a career development channel in the field of Public Health in Malaysia” was produced by the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine. This culminated in the initiation of a 4-years training programme. The candidates over the years have contributed to the development of Public Health in Malaysia by engaging in research as one of the requirements of the programme.

The Master of Medical Science in Public Health (MMedScPH) programme introduced in 2001 was in response to the need of the Ministry of Health Malaysia for allied health staff who serve in the then fast-expanding rural health service to have a better knowledge of public health. The program was aimed at producing competent allied health staff, e.g., Environmental Health Officers, for the Ministry of Health Malaysia, with a broad knowledge of public health to serve in the rural areas within the country. After a thorough curriculum review in 2016, the programme was stopped, and the MPH programme is offered to all eligible applicants including allied health staff since 2017.

MPH Handbook

Public Health Alumni

The following are the number of graduate candidates;

ProgrammeNumber of Candidates
Master of Public Health1201
Master of Medical Science (Public Health)157
Master of Public Health (Hospital Management)3
Master of Public Health (Health Service Management)21
Master of Public Health (Epidemiology)22
Master of Public Health (Family Health)22
Master of Public Health (Occupational Health)25
Master of Medical Science (Research)47
Doctor of Public Health203
Doctor of Philosophy89

The graduates originate from the following countries,

  Countries Number of Graduates
Arab Saudi
Canada 1
China 23
Egypt 4
Ethiopia 1
The Gambia 1
Germany 1
Indonesia 10
India 4
Iran 12
Iraq 7
Japan 2
Jordan 2
Lebanon 1
Libya 9
Malaysia 1057
Mongolia 1
Nigeria 23
Pakistan 16
Palestine 2
Papua New Guinea 4
Peru 1
Philippines 1
Qatar 1
Russia 1
Somalia 4
Spain 1
Sri Lanka 1
Sudan 235
United Kingdom 2
Flag of Vietnam Vietnam 1
Flag of Yemen Yemen 22

They now serve with distinction in the Ministry of Health, universities and various National and International bodies (e.g. Malaysian Armed Forces, WHO, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and in town and city councils) in Malaysia and around the world. (List of Alumni)