Letter to Editor
VARIOUS issues affecting the public healthcare system and its healthcare workforce were voiced out and solutions were provided at the townhall session held with the Health Ministry (MOH) in Putrajaya yesterday (Feb 22).
The townhall which MMA was part of the secretariat was attended by almost 400 doctors working in the public healthcare system.
In the no-holds-barred session, house officers, medical officers (both contract and permanent), specialists and consultants spoke freely about their issues. We wish to thank the Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa and Deputy Health Minister Tuan Lukanisman Awang Sauni for agreeing to the townhall session that was proposed by the MMA when we met with the minister in December last year soon after she took office as Health Minister.
Many of the issues can’t be resolved overnight, however the townhall was a good start.
The minister has shown a willingness to engage with the healthcare workers, to listen and understand their issues and she has promised that no action will be taken against any doctor who brings up issues. This is important if we are to move forward and towards more meaningful improvements in our healthcare system.
We also appeal once again to both the Finance Ministry (MOF) and Public Service Department (JPA) to give MOH the support needed, as many of the issues are not for the MOH alone to address.
Additional funding and the creation of posts will be needed to resolve the human resources issues we are facing. We understand from our meetings with MOH that the health minister has been in close engagement with both the MOF and the JPA.
The issues brought up by MMA at the townhall were broadly divided into two categories: human resources and facilities/infrastructure.
Under human resources, financial matters (long overdue on-call claims and salary revision), exploitation (bullying, working hours, wage theft, etc) as well as issues affecting contract doctors/junior doctors, subject matter experts, and specialists were brought up. The MMA also highlighted the need for transparency in MOH data.
Under facility and infrastructure, MMA highlighted the need for proper development and maintenance of both physical and digital infrastructure. To avoid the failure of electronic records systems, standardisation and proper maintenance must be insisted upon.
There is also a need for transparency in facility assessments. Reports on the fire at Hospital Sultanah Aminah Johor Bahru (HSAJB) should be released to the public.
The MMA presented solutions to each of these issues and will be following up with the MOH on its progress. — Feb 23, 2023
Dr Muruga Raj Rajathurai is the president of Malaysian Medical Association.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.