KUCHING, July 1: The Ministry of Health (MOH) should clarify their plans to address and resolve contract issues among healthcare workers in the country, including proper distribution and placements in places of urgent needs especially in Sarawak and Sabah.
Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii in a statement said these are among the questions he submitted for the July Parliamentary Session.
He also pointed out that the ministry needed to outline its plan for the medical officers (MOs) that were recently offered a 6-month contract extension in April who are currently uncertain of the future, especially with the next deadline fast approaching.
“At the beginning of the year, MoH offered 102 permanent positions for MOs from all over Malaysia and the placement for all those positions will be in Sarawak. While I welcome such a move especially to address the needs of doctors here especially in the rural areas in Sarawak, I believe MOH should reveal how many of the 102 positions were actually offered to Sarawakians,” Dr Yii said.
He pointed that over the years, many West Malaysian doctors had been transferred to Sarawak and even though they were dedicated and diligent in serving in Sarawak, in most cases, these arrangements were not permanent and they were eventually transferred back to their home states after their two-year compulsory service with the government, or for other reasons which include being closer to their families.
“That is why I have urged the MOH to prioritise Sarawakians when making the new offers, especially if they are eventually to be posted in Sarawak to address the urgent needs of doctors here in the state, especially in the rural areas on a long-term basis.
“As it is, there are many Sarawakians doctors or even health care workers that are serving in the state but yet to be offered a permanent posting.
“The core issue that MOH needs to address is actually the intake criteria or criteria of selection when it comes to choosing who gets the permanent position and who gets continued on contract. The whole selection can be more transparent so that there is not only greater certainty in the selection, but also to remove any perception of favoritism, bias or even discrimination in selection,” Dr Yii stressed.
If the criteria are more transparent and certain, he believed the junior doctors can be better prepared and know for certain what they need to work for in order to achieve their target in obtaining a permanent posting.
This he said may resolve a lot of the uneasiness and feeling of being under-appreciated that they are feeling now.
“The best way we can appreciate our medical front liners especially for their service to our country during this pandemic is to invest in them and give them better security of tenure and of course a chance for them to further specialise in their desired Masters Program.
“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,” Dr Yii added.
Meanwhile, Dr Yii also pointed out that one of the things the Covid-19 pandemic had revealed is the importance of reforms in health care priorities, especially systemic financing to health care.
He believed more investment in health care is needed not just to deal with the current pandemic, but also more that will come in the future.
“This involves investment in human resources, the core of the health care system. It is health care workers that save patients, and it is into them we must priorities our investment. Investment in the health of our nation will also translate into the wealth of our nation.”—DayakDaily