THE Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) will have Dr Muruga Raj Rajathurai, who holds a law degree and a Masters in Business Administration (MBA), to serve as its president for the new 2022-2023 term.
He officially began his term at the closing of MMA’s annual general meeting (AGM) yesterday (Sept 10), replacing Dr Koh Kar Chai who completed his 2021-2022 term.
Dr Muruga graduated from India’s Kasturba Medical College in Manipal. He also has a law degree from the University of London and an MBA from the Asia Metropolitan University.
He currently practices medicine as a private general practitioner (GP) in Kempas, Johor Bahru, Johor.
“Some years ago when I had the intention to contest for the president’s post, I felt I needed to prepare myself well. Only a few of you might know that I actually did my MBA last year and that I graduated with a law degree,” he said in his inaugural speech.
“I suppose you can call it lifelong learning but I believe these credentials will be useful to have as the president of Malaysia’s largest doctors group.”
Dr Muruga also praised Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin for his strong commitment to reforms in the healthcare system and vowed to continue MMA’s push for the much-needed changes in the system.
He further noted the healthcare human resources issues that need to be looked into together with both the Health Ministry (MOH) and Public Services Department (PSD).
“I hope to engage with the PSD soon on charting the way forward on the issues of manpower in our healthcare system,” he told PSD deputy director-general (operations) Datuk Kamel Mohamad who represented the PSD director-general Datuk Seri Mohd Shafiq Abdullah at MMA’s annual banquet.
“Notable progress but still long way to go”
Dr Muruga then asked if it was possible for the PSD to double the number of permanent positions for doctors on contract.
“There has been some notable progress on the issue of contract doctors although we still have a long way to go towards a more sustainable solution,” he pointed out.
“We hope that the existing concerns will be adequately addressed through the (Health) White Paper which is expected to be tabled in November.”
Dr Muruga also expressed hope that the process of reforms to the healthcare system would continue even if there is a change in Government.
“We may have a world-class healthcare system but it may mean little if our public hospitals and clinics are still congested,” he observed, noting that the area of specialist services needs to improve with better distribution of specialist services nationwide to truly reflect universal health coverage (UHC).
With the tabling of Budget 2023 around the corner (Oct 7), he requested the Government to increase the nation’s healthcare budget.
“MMA is hopeful of seeing a budget for healthcare truly reflecting the Government’s commitment towards reforms,” he said, noting that the group only asked for the “bare minimum” of 5% of the nation’s GDP (gross domestic product).
“For many years, we have been managing with a minuscule amount and have yet delivered a high level of care for the population. But the system, as we all know, is over-stretched and a number of our facilities are aging.”
Dr Muruga also pledged to actively address incidents of bullying among healthcare workers in the public healthcare system during his term.
“It (instances of alleged bullying) is disturbing to hear. So, let me just say that bullying will not be tolerated any longer as I will work together with MOH and colleagues to ensure that this cancerous behaviour that has crept into the system is dealt with.” – Sept 11, 2022
Main photo credit: Columbia Asia Hospital