PETALING JAYA: The lack of specialists and an exodus of talent will continue to be a problem unless contract doctors are offered permanent positions, says the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).
Citing data from the National Specialist Register and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), MMA’s Section for House Officers, Medical Officers and Specialists (Schomos) said Malaysia’s population-to-specialist ratio of 10000:3.88 was “embarrassingly low” when compared to OECD countries’ ratio of 10000:14.33.
“Wait a few more years and we will suffer from the double blows of even higher costs and a greater brain drain,” Schomos warned in a statement today.
“Even as we are fighting the pandemic, scores of doctors are forced to leave the country to seek better job prospects.
“The ailing healthcare system needs to be resuscitated urgently before it can heal our rakyat properly. Resolving the current issues with contract hire of our doctors is the first step.”
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday said the Cabinet will discuss permanent positions for contract doctors when ministers meet today for their weekly session, adding that this would involve a cost of more than RM2 billion.
While Schomos said the figure may seem “astronomical” at a glance, the required budget had been compounding for the past few years and would continue to do so if this issue was not resolved immediately.
The contract system limits medical officers to five years’ service in the public sector, after which they will have to move into the private sector or take up specialist training on their own.
The scheme was introduced in 2016 to deal with an oversupply of medical graduates, with news reports putting the blame on the opening of many medical schools and lack of stringent entry requirements. – FREE MALAYSIA TODAY
‘Don’t threaten doctors, listen to their concerns’ – Bandar Kuching MP
Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii has hit out at police investigations targeting healthcare workers who have supported the Malaysian Medical Association campaign highlighting the plight of contract doctors in government service.
Yesterday, MMA president Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said they have received complaints from doctors involved in the Code Black and Black Monday campaigns that they are being investigated by the police, and are afraid and traumatised by the investigations.
“If true, this is disgraceful. The concerns and demands of the doctors should be heard, and discussed, not threatened,” Yii said, when contacted by Malaysiakini.
“This is a clear overkill and clear intimidation when their demands are legitimate and their act has not breached any laws in our country.
“Is this how we treat our young contract doctors and healthcare workers?” asked Yii.
He called on Health Minister Dr Adham Baba and director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah to step in and put their foot down on the issue.
“The government should mobilise all resources to help to curb the spread of Covid-19 rather than harass the same people who are probably at the frontline of the pandemic,” said Yii, who added that the movement had caught on in Sarawak as well.
Previously, the MMA urged members of the public to support the plight of contract doctors through its Code Black campaign from July 1 to July 12, by changing their profile pictures on social media to black or monochrome.
The campaign takes its name from a hospital emergency code denoting a threat to its personnel. In this case, it refers to the poor job security and prospects for career advancement faced by contract doctors.
On July 12, supporters showed solidarity through the Black Monday campaign by wearing black-coloured attire to work, and sharing photos of the act on social media platforms.
Yesterday, the MMA president said that while the group was aware that the police are empowered to conduct investigations, the MMA strongly condemned the targeting of doctors who have supported its campaign championing the rights of healthcare workers in the country.
“The involved doctors carried out their duties diligently while displaying solidarity for healthcare workers.
“Medical officers like any other Malaysian have the right to stand up, even at the very least by the show of colour,” he said.
The two MMA campaigns come ahead of a strike that is organised by another group of doctors which is to take place on July 26. This involves contract doctors walking away from their jobs for a day while their colleagues cover for them to maintain patient care.
The MMA has repeatedly said it has nothing to do with the proposed strike and does not support it.
In response to the increasing pressure, Putrajaya has offered a one-off on-year contract extension for contract doctors. MKINI
FREE MALAYSIA TODAY / MKINI