Orthopaedic Surgery in Malaysia
 
by Dr Saw Aik
 

Development of Orthopaedic Service

Orthopaedic service in Malaysia started with the establishment of the first orthopaedic unit at Kuala Lumpur General Hospital after the second world war in 1949 (Figure 1). The first head of unit was Dr. J A P Cameron (Figure 2), a general surgeon with M. Ch. Orth. of Liverpool. He was succeeded by Dr. O'Malley in 1952, followed by Dr. Donald Gunn (Figure 3) in 1955. Dr Abdul Majid Ismail (Figure 4) was our first local orthopaedic surgeon after obtaining the M. Ch. Orth. from Liverpool in 1957. When Dr Donald Gunn left for Singapore in 1957, again Dr O' Malley became the head for another 2 years before Dr Abdul Majid took over from him in 1959.

Figure 1: General Hospital of Kuala Lumpur
 
Figure 2: Dr. J A P Cameron
Figure 3: Dr Donald Gunn
Figure 4: Tan Sri Dato' Dr Abd Majid Ismail

The first medical faculty of this country University Malaya (UM) was founded in 1963 (Figure 5). Orthopaedic department of this medical school was established in 1966 and headed by Dr J F Silva from Sri Lanka. Members of orthopaedic surgeons in the country increased over the years and orthopaedic services gradually expanded to cover the whole country. By 1976, there was an orthopaedic unit in every general hospital of the states and the Institute of Orthopaedics in Kuala Lumpur was completed. Postgraduate course in orthopaedic surgery was later introduced by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and the first batch of local orthopaedic surgeons graduated in 1985 (Figure 6). Currently 3 universities [UKM, UM and Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM)] are providing masters of orthopaedic surgery courses in Malaysia.

Figure 5: University Hospital
 
Figure 6: First batch of locally trained orthopaedic surgeons


Formation of Malaysian Orthopaedic Association

In 1967, the Malaysian Orthopaedic Association (MOA) was formed with Dr. Abdul Majid Ismail as the first president. Founding members included Dr Selvakumar, Dr M Sivananthan, Dr Kannan Kutty, Dr. Pretam Singh, Dr Balasubramaniam, Dr Balasingam, Dr Mahmood Merican, Dr Mohd Iqbal, Dr Sachdev Singh, Dr Subir Sengupta and Dr K Thambyrajah. The first Malaysian Orthopaedic Congress was organized in 1968 and it was attended by a total of sixty delegates from various countries (Figure 7). In the following year, the first Malaysian-Singapore combined orthopaedic meeting was held in Singapore (Figure 8). In 1973, the MOA took up the responsibility to host the 4th Congress of Western Pacific Orthopaedic Association (WPOA) in Kuala Lumpur (Figure 9). After the establishment of the ASEAN Orthopaedic Association (AOA) in 1984, the MOA hosted the 4th AOA Congress in 1987.

Figure 7: First meeting of Malaysian Orthopaedic Association in 1968
 
Figure 8: First MOA SOA combine meeting in Singapore in 1969
 

Initially most of the annual scientific meetings were held in Kuala Lumpur. In the 1990s, attempts were made to have the meetings out of the capital and they were received with positive response. Our members seemed to like the idea of combining the scientific meeting with holiday, and to avoid the heavy traffic. The meeting in Langkawi Island in 1995 recorded a high attendance rate and since then most of our annual general / scientific meetings were held away from Kuala Lumpur.

Figure 9: 4th Congress of Western Pacific Orthopaedic Association in Kuala Lumpur

The main objective of this association is to promote the advancement of science, arts and practice of orthopaedic surgery and allied science as stated in the constitution. With the increasing number of orthopaedic surgeons over the years, the association recognized the need to ensure overall development of our members in various aspects of practice. Many measures have been taken especially over the past few years to provide opportunities to achieve this aim.

In order to encourage continuing medical education (CME) among members, MOA appointed regional representatives for five geographical regions (North, East Coast, South, Central and East Malaysia) of the country and provided financial assistance for them to organize local scientific meetings. Starting last year, various subspecialty interest groups were formed under the umbrella of the MOA. These groups serve to coordinate reaching and training activities for orthopaedic surgeons interested in these fields, and to support the regional CME programs by providing speakers and teaching materials.

With the increasing number of orthopaedic related basic science and clinical researches, MOA published the first orthopaedic supplement of Medical Journal of Malaysia (MJM) in 2000. To encourage more orthopaedic surgeons to involve in research activities, the MOA has recently formed a research committee that look into the possibilities of providing technical and financial support for research projects especially for members not attached to teaching institution.

In order to promote humanitarian values among members, a medical relief committee was formed at the end of 2004. The committee swung into action when several countries including Malaysia were affected by the tsunami disaster. MOA has served as a hub to deliver more than USD 300,000 worth of medical supplies donated by various orthopaedic organizations like Chinese Orthopaedic Association, Philippines Orthopaedic Association and Chiba Hospital from Japan to the affected areas in Banda Aceh and Sri Lanka.

The number of orthopaedic surgeons in this country is estimated to be around 350. With a 24 million population, the ratio is about 1 to 70,000, far from expected ratio of 1 to 25,000. In the effort to increase the number of orthopaedic work force in the country, MOA will try to make sure that the quality of medical care will be maintained. We also hope that we regional and international cooperation, development of subspecialty fields will be enhanced.

Malaysian Orthopaedic Association
Past Presidents
 
NO NAME YEAR
1 Tan Sri Dato' Dr Abdul Majid Ismail 1967 - 1982
2 Dr Khaw Joo Hua 1982 - 1983
3 Dato' Dr Mahmood Merican 1983 - 1985
4 Datuk Dr M Sivanantham 1985 - 1987
5 Dr Eddie Soo 1987 - 1989
6 Dato' Dr Abdul Hamid Abdul Kadir 1989 - 1991
7 Dato' Dr K S Sivananthan 1991 - 1993
8 Prof S Sengupta 1993 - 1994
9 Datuk Dr Yeoh Poh Hong 1994 - 1995
10 Dr N Subramanian 1995 - 1996
11 Dr Easaw Thomas 1996 - 1997
12 Prof Mohamad Abdul Razak 1997 - 1998
13 Prof Shong Hing Kock 1998 - 1999
14 Dato' Dr Muhd Borhan Tan 1999 - 2000
15 Assoc Prof David Choon Siew Kit 2000 - 2001
16 Assoc Prof Sharaf Ibrahim 2001 - 2002
17 Prof Zulmi Wan
2002 - 2003
18 Dato' Dr Syed Abdul latiff Alsagoff 2003 - 2004
19 Assoc Prof Saw Aik 2004 - 2005
20 Dr Ruslan Nazaruddin 2005 - 2006
21 Prof Dato' Tunku Sara Ahmad 2006 - 2007

Special thanks to the following past presidents for their invaluable information :

Tan Sri Dato' Dr Abdul Majid Ismail
Prof. Balasubramaniam
Prof S. Sengupta
Dato' Dr Mahmood Merican
Dato' Dr K S Sivananthan
Dr Eddie Soo
Dato' Dr Muhd Borhan Tan