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A veteran doctor gives his observations on the changes in the medical field


Set up in 1981 as the first private hospital in the southern Malaysian state of Johor, KPJ Johor Specialist Hospital was the first in what has become the behemoth that is the KPJ Healthcare group.

Today, it is one of the foremost medical centres in the southern region of Malaysia with patients from both Malaysia and abroad.

One man who has seen the growth of the hospital from near its inception to present times is Dr Mohd Hafetz Ahmad - the Medical Director of KPJ Johor Specialist Hospital.

As an obstetrician and gynaecologist (Ob/Gyn), Dr Hat etz is no stranger to seeing life brought into the world, and he talks to international Business Review about his vocation as a doctor and a medical director.


Dr Hafetz was introduced to the world of obstetrics and gynaecology during his days as a medical student in the University of Malaya, when he was required to deliver babies at University Hospital. As he recalls, "the (Obstetrics and Gynaecology) department was then one of the strongest in the country and the experience I had there gave me the exposure to the area".

Having been bitten by the bug, Dr Hafetz has not looked back since, and from the time he joined KPJ Johor Specialist Hospital in 1982, he has been a mainstay in the Ob/Gyn department.

The years of service he has chalked up has enabled him to witness the development of the discipline.

He observed that the modem day obstetrician and gynaecologist has many sub-specialities such as "maternalfoetal gynaecological oncology, infertility and laparoscopic surgery" to name a few. Along with advancements in skills, he also noticed that there have been developments in technology, so certain aspects such as foetal heartbeat can be monitored today, whereas it was not possible when he was starting out.


However, the fundamentals have remained the same, and that is to deliver healthy babies into the world.

Dr Hafetz told International Business Review that doing so and keeping in touch with grateful patients has given him great pleasure, and that is why he classifies obstetrics and gynaecology as "happy medicine".

Such is the rapport and relationship that Dr Hafetz builds with his patients that some of the people he has delivered have even invited him to their weddings when they are older. However, he also revealed that there have been several less than pleasant incidents, such as when he sees cancer cells forming in young patients. For him, such tragedies can be prevented if action had been taken earlier to detect and arrest the problem.

“Some people might say they don’t feel sick, so why should they go for a check-up? But the thing is, the correct time to do a screening is when you’re feeling well. Many people are not motivated until something bad happens; this kind of attitude has to change.”


Looking back at the achievements that have been recorded in medical services from the time he started practice, Dr Hafetz is happy that the improvement in maternity services has resulted in the decline of maternity-related mortality rates.

Furthermore, he acknowledged that the general quality of life for Malaysians has improved.

Be that as it may, he feels that there are still areas that need improvement.

For instance, he finds that there are too many women who do not take the initiative to look after their health, by going for screening and pap smear examinations. "Some people might say they don’t feel sick, so why should they go for a check-up? But the thing is, the correct time to do a screening is when you’re feeling well. Many people are not motivated until something bad happens. This kind of attitude has to change," he opined.

Having worked in KPJ Johor Specialist Hospital for nearly three decades, Dr Hafetz has also seen the hospital grow from strength to strength. For instance, he observed that the hospital has become increasingly popular with international patients. This, however, is not a new phenomenon as patients from as far off as Korea and Japan had patronised the hospital during the 1980s and 1990s.

Just as he works hard to ensure that his patients are taken care of, his role as the medical director sees him being in charge of seeing that proper clinical governance procedures are being adhered to, and that the safety of patients is priority.

Ending the interview, Dr Hafetz opined that perhaps the biggest change in the medical profession over the past 30 years is how patients have become more aware of health and treatment issues, and have higher expectations. It is therefore a measure of KPJ Johor Specialist Hospital, and its medical director, that it has been able to meet and address these changing needs.