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KUCHING, June 29: The federal government through the Ministry of Health (MOH) must seriously address the needs and concerns raised by contract medical officers (MOs) and healthcare professionals rather than threaten them with disciplinary action, says Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen.
He was commenting in support of consistent calls from many quarters to resolve the contract situation for junior doctors and healthcare professionals who claim they are deprived of certain rights, privileges and opportunities in comparison to those awarded permanent posts, even though they carry the same responsibility and face the same risk of infection at work.
Dr Yii stated that the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the different gaps and neglect in the country’s healthcare system including reaffirming the need to invest significantly in the health system including human resources.
“These young doctors and health professionals have sacrificed their time and energy, risking their lives even at the expense of not going back home to their families for a duration just so that they do not risk spreading the disease to their loved ones.
“That is why these healthcare professionals do not only deserve our gratitude and respect, but more importantly they deserve to be treated fairly, especially during their time of service.
“That is why I call upon the different Ministries including the MOH, Public Service Department (JPA) and other relevant agencies to come up with a long-term plan to address this issue holistically including being transparent in the selection criteria for permanent employment,” he said in a statement today.
He added that while he understands the limitations and complexity of the issue, among matters which the ministry can clearly address is the transparency of the intake, or criteria of selection for permanent posting or promotion, which is often perceived to be vague and subjective.
“Such criteria must be fully based on merit and performance and not driven by race, even religion, or even connections.
“On top of that, I believe that the government should take an extra step to allow these contract workers similar access to perks enjoyed by the permanent MOs as their responsibility, workload, and even risk is the same.
“It is only a policy decision that can be made on a ministry level, which includes access for them to get special leave, such as hazard leave, study leave etc,” he pointed out.
Dr Yii also asserted the government should give contract workers a chance for upward mobility and allow them to apply for Hadiah Latihan Persekutuan (HLP) to further their Masters education and specialisation in local universities to address the lack of specialists in the country.
“This is, of course, in line with the efforts by the government and hospitals to produce more specialists to address the lack of them nationwide, and also to improve the quality of health care for our patients,” he emphasised. — DayakDaily