Malaysia Assistant Medical Officers


  • Alias Mahmud
  • Zulhelmi Abdullah


Malaysia, Assistant Medical Officers


The Medical Assistant (currently known as Assistant Medical Officers) profession is one of the earliest in Malaysia and has been in existence for more than 230 years. The early days began when two military Medical Assistants named Michael Cgaffe and Henry Warring served in medical affairs and medical administration during Francis Light's reign in Penang in 1786 (Noraini, 2010). The two Medical Assistants, together with a doctor, Dr James Hutton, are the pioneering medical staff in modern medical services in the country.


The Medical Assistants (MA) profession is originally known as Apothecaries. Under the government of British Malaya, Apothecaries is also known as the Sub-Assistant Surgeon or Dresser. But the profession was once widely known by the rural community as 'Dresser'. The profession has undergone a transformation of titles in line with its growing role in the healthcare system namely Hospital Assistants (1963), Medical Assistants (1985) and now Assistant Medical Officers (since March 20, 2007) (Alias, 2016).


The role of Medical Assistants is also growing in line with the development of healthcare services itself. In the past, MAs played an essential role in providing health services to rural and estate communities, but currently, the role has expanded and extended in the area of emergency and pre-hospital care, primary health, and specialized units. Therefore, the numbers are increasing. In 2019, 17,895 Medical Assistants were serving in government and private hospitals and health facilities in the country (Health Facts, 2020).

Author Biographies

Alias Mahmud

Senior Lecturer

Department of Emergency Medicine

Faculty of Medicine, National University of Malaysia (UKM)

Zulhelmi Abdullah


Policy and strategic planning

Medical Assistants Board.

Ministry of Health Malaysia.




How to Cite

Mahmud, A., & Abdullah, Z. (2021). Malaysia Assistant Medical Officers. Social Innovations Journal, 8. Retrieved from