Letter to Editor
THE media reported recently that Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa has given an undertaking that plans are afoot to set up the Health Services Commission.This is a much-awaited decision and one that will set our public healthcare on the right track in the long run. Those in the medical profession like me know that this proposal has been around for many years but it is only recently that the formation of this long-awaited commission has gained momentum. The public may not fully understand why this commission is important. The truth is that, once set up, this will have far-reaching implications especially in terms of public healthcare. Public healthcare today is not like it was 20 or 30 years ago. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the immense complexity of managing public healthcare. Millions of lives are literally at stake and how well we manage public healthcare can directly impact our socio-economic well-being in a profound manner. A critical aspect of public healthcare delivery is the medical personnel, not just drugs, new hospitals or state-of-the-art medical devices. Now, doctors in public health facilities are hired by the Public Services Commission (PSC). Moreover, a newly-established Healthcare Services Commission will be able to cut through the red tape for which the PSC is notorious.
Besides, an independent commission comprising professionals in the fields of medicine and health sciences will be able to better understand the needs in the sector compared with the PSC, which hires the bulk of federal civil servants from a wide spectrum of areas, from engineers to social workers.In other words, the proposed Healthcare Services Commission will be more specialised and better able to address the needs of public healthcare. We foresee not just a more expeditious hiring process with the new body, it will also be more transparent and efficient in areas like human resources management, staffing, training and career growth for public healthcare workers. Overall, the welfare of public healthcare workers will be better taken care of. Doctors, nurses, lab assistants and a wide range of staff keeping our public healthcare up and running are our nation’s unsung heroes. They put in long, punishing hours for meagre returns compared with their counterparts in the private sector.
Once the new commission is set up, I am confident it will be able to look into the plight of these selfless staff members better.Another reason why the Health Services Commission is highly anticipated is that we are hopeful it will be able to resolve the longstanding issue of contract doctors and medical experts. These personnel have been getting a raw deal and we believe the Commission can come up with long-term solutions to this problem. Having said that, we know the proposed commission is not the silver bullet to our healthcare woes, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.
For this, the Health Ministry should be lauded for finally getting the ball rolling. I would like to personally thank the minister for her efforts and look forward to many more positive developments in the health sector under her leadership. – July 6, 2023
Dr Zulkifli B
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.
Main photo credit: MyHSR