Nursing History in Malaysia

nursing college history 1
nursing college history 2

The history of nursing in Malaysia began from about the year 1800 with the formation of the East India Company when hospital for the sick were established in Penang and Singapore. Nursing was carried out by Catholic nuns and later on replaced by English nurses from England.

Nursing practice in the pre-war period in Malaya then was carried out by nurses who received “on the job training” with lectures given by expatriates i.e. by European sisters, matrons and Doctors at the hospital level.

After Independence, health services became mainly a central government responsibility with delegation of service delivery through state and district health administrations.

Prior to the war, each straits/settlement organized and ran their own nursing services. All states were responsible to the director of medical services. The nurses receives lectures in practice and theory of nursing from the matron or assistant matron of the hospital. The doctors gave lectures to both nurses and hospital assistant. They sat for their own state examination and the standards varies from one state to another. On completion from training, nurses were promoted to staff nurse and later in considered suitable they become senior staff nurse.

The expansion of medical and nursing services were greatly hindered during the emergency situations. But in 1959, most of the states in Malaya become free from communism and it marks the beginning of the development of health services throughout the country.

By 1978, the element of Primary Health Care (PHC) strategies enunciated at Alma-Ata were already evident in the Malaysia Health Care System. Concern for reduction in equity in access to health care for increasing coverage formalized in 1971 with the government 20 years perspective plan – NEP. In addition to rural communities, the urban poor had become the focus of attention.


1923 – Introduction of legislation for the control of the Practice of Midwifery and the training of midwifes in the Straits Settlement and subsequently in the other states of the Malay Peninsular.

1950 – Nursing Legislation

Nurses Act and the establishment of the Nurses Registration Ordinance, to control the practice of nursing which provided for the setting up of the Nursing Board for controlling the training and registration as regards to the practice of nursing.

Development of syllabus and curriculum for the Basic Nurse Training.

The regulation for the conduct of final examination.

The issuing of the Nurse Training Certificate.

The Regulation to control the practice of nursing though registration and issue of Nursing Registration Certificate and Registration Badge.

1956 – The Nurses Registration Regulation.

1961 – The first private nursing school in Malaysia was established at the Assunta Hospital. It was called the Tun Tan Cheng Cock College of Nursing.

1969 –   Extension of the Act to Sarawak.

1978 –   Extension of the Act to Sabah.

1985 –   Nurses Registration Regulation 1985.  Implementation of the Annual Practicing Certificate.

1966 – The Midwives Act 1966 establishes a Midwifes Boards provides for the registration of nurse-midwifes and regulates the practice of midwifery in the country.

1971 – The Midwives (Registration) Regulation, 1971, requiring all midwives to apply for registration. (TBA, up to 1st August 1972)

1990 – Act Revised – 1990 (Reopened to TBA within the next 10 years).