Editor’s Note: With the spotlight shining down on today’s (Dec 12) cabinet reshuffle, Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad who was the former health minister during the 22-month Pakatan Harapan (PH) government is rumoured to make a comeback to replace current minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa.
Dr Zaliha who is currently the Health Minister is expected to become the new Federal Territories Minister. The Federal Territories Ministry was previously dissolved to make way for a Federal Territories Department.
THE impending cabinet reshuffle which may be imminent is the sole prerogative of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, according to Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa.
“It is not necessarily about the individual minister’s performance or the lack of it,” she told FocusM.
Among the reasons cited for a cabinet reshuffle, the minister noted, is to allow the PM to further consolidate the government’s position to ensure there is political stability in the country which is a key factor in attracting foreign investments.
But one year serving as the minister of what is known to the public for many years to be a problematic ministry, Dr Zaliha has smiles on her face when she thinks of the people whom she has made an impact on.
“We are talking about real reforms when our policies impact the lives of doctors, nurses, patients and their family members,” she asserted.
“The process takes time to implement; therefore, even if I am dropped as a cabinet minister, this would still remain my legacy and track record for me to cherish on. Hopefully, the public will appreciate all the hard work that we have put into improving the system. We could only work based on the priorities.”
One of the major issues that stared at her when she first took over the Health Ministry (MOH) was the long-standing issue faced by medical officers who asked for permanent positions.
To-date, she claims that a total of 18,172 medical officers have been offered permanent positions. This includes 6,826 permanent positions in medicine, dentistry and pharmacy, 3,187 nurses and 8,159 other staff who are involved in other areas of the public healthcare services.
“Besides, the contracts of 2,779 staff in allied health sciences and paramedics have also been extended from one year to three years,” she shared.
“As a medical doctor myself, I understand very well the sentiments of our medical professionals. However, due to budget constraints, the offer for permanent positions can only be made over a period of time but this is all in the pipeline.”
A high-level committee jointly chaired by the MOH and the Chief Secretary to the Federal government has also been established to look at the long-term improvement to the staffing and talent management in the medical services.
“This will address the long-term needs for a more well-trained human resources within the public health sector in the country,” stressed Dr Zaliha who is also the PKR Sekijang MP.
Focusing on B40 group
A fair bit of time was also spent on the implementation of the MADANI Health Scheme under Budget 2023.
Under the Rahmah Cash Contribution (STR) scheme, for example, recipients and dependents are now given Acute Primary Health Care at registered private medical clinics.
“This is my baby project, and the response to date from the public is very good, especially among the lower income (B40) community and the general practitioners (GPs),” she revealed.
“For far too long, the health and well-being of the B40 have been neglected. The reforms done to the MADANI medical scheme, for example, has benefited a total of 601,214 patients who are in this category throughout the country.”
Following this, medical facilities at a total of 436 government clinics throughout the country have been upgraded within the past 12 months.
“Most people do not see this except those who are directly benefiting from the improvement done to these clinics,” she opined. “This includes the staircases at the Taman Ehsan health clinic which was highlighted by FocusM.”
Digitalisation at 50 health clinics throughout the country has been implemented within six weeks. Through the MySejahtera application, appointments at the health clinics can be made online which enable an average of 30,000 appointments to be managed daily.
“This will enable the public to access the healthcare services without having to wait for long hours at the health clinics,” explained the first-term minister. “MOH has also implemented 3,837 cashless terminals to enable the health clinics and hospitals to receive cashless payments.”
A V-sign on smoke-free Malaysia
On the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023 which was passed in parliament recently, Dr Zaliha said that people’s well-being remains crucial to the Madani government.
She admitted that she has received a lot of brickbats due to her initiative to push for the bill to be passed.
“This is a first stand-alone law which controls the use of smoking products,” she stressed. “Once the law comes into effect, cigarettes or vape products can no longer be advertised, promoted or involved in sponsorship.”
Meanwhile, MOH through the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council is also actively promoting medial tourism. “A record of RM1.7 bil was registered this year from the medical tourism this year. We will further strengthen our position as a medical tourism hub for the region,” added Dr Zaliha.
Pics credit: Dr Zaliha Mustafa’s Facebook