KUALA LUMPUR: The Ministry of Health (MOH) has approved 359 appeals for transfer by medical officers throughout the country, so far.

Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said the remaining applications would be scrutinised later based on merits and vacancies available in the areas applied for.

"If the appeal has merit and there is a vacancy in the area they applied for, we will try to facilitate the request.

"At the moment, however, we have to pause for a while to make sure they do their job first because their service as doctors and civil servants must continue," she told reporters after launching the National Regulatory Conference 2023 (NRC 2023) organised by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Division (NPRA) and Malaysian Pharmacy Association here today.

Last month, Dr Zaliha reportedly said that the ministry received 1,834 appeals for transfer of medical officers and one of the reasons given was that the officers were pursuing specialist studies and facing serious family problems.

Earlier in her speech, Dr Zaliha said NPRA is poised towards an agile regulatory framework that can adapt quickly, not only to scientific advancements and new technologies in pharmaceuticals but also to any emerging health threats.

She said this involves flexible approval pathways, expedited reviews for urgent medical needs, and an openness towards adaptive clinical trial designs.

"Additionally, in response to resource limitations, NPRA is also progressing from conventional and routine practises to a risk-based approach for both pre-market authorisation and post-market surveillance activities.

"Thus, it is high time for a structural or organisational reform to be considered for a more effective and efficient regulatory delivery system that will ultimately benefit public health and support the growth of a globally recognised pharmaceutical industry for the country," she said.

Dr Zaliha said in 2019, the total pharmaceutical industry market by value and by volume was reported at RM 9.18 billion and 309 million units, respectively, and with this sizeable value, it is obvious that the sector plays a critical role in the economic progress of the country and the growth of the healthcare system.

Therefore, in ensuring that the pharmaceutical industry can continue to make a significant and positive impact on local and global health outcomes, Dr Zaliha said she is confident that today's conference offers an excellent opportunity for knowledge exchange and initiating discussion on regulatory reforms.

The conference, themed 'Regulatory Agility: Navigating Winds of Change', was attended by 630 delegates from government, academia, associations, and the private sector.