Report: Malaysian nurses’ monthly wages among the lowest in ASEAN

A NURSE’S monthly salary in Malaysia is lower than their counterparts in Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines, all of which have a smaller economy size compared to Malaysia.

According to the latest survey on nurses’ salaries in ASEAN countries, Laos records the lowest monthly salary of RM973.34, followed by Myanmar (RM1,182), Indonesia (RM1,400) and Malaysia (RM1,800).

In comparison, a nurse in Vietnam earns a monthly salary of RM2,582, a nurse in the Philippines earns RM2,728 while a nurse in Cambodia brings home RM3,032 a month, reported Utusan Malaysia.

Given the fact that the starting salary for a nurse in Malaysia’s civil service is based on the existing government scheme, they generally receive a basic salary of RM1,800 excluding other allowances, said Malayan Nurses Union (MNU) president Saaidah Athman.

She proposed that the starting salary for nurses in government hospitals be increased to RM2,000 while also creating new allowances to cover shifts and meals as practised in other countries.

“We acknowledge the emigration of Malaysian healthcare service providers including nurses from the Health Ministry with hopes of better employment opportunities overseas,” she told the Malay news portal.

“Higher salaries and remunerations are luring Malaysians overseas so much so they are willing to relinquish the responsibility of contributing to their home country’s economy.”

According to an Utusan Malaysia report on Monday (April 15), the percentage of nursing vacancies in 2023 had escalated drastically from 10% to 40% in the four years since the country was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr Azizan Abdul Aziz had also noted that many nurses left their jobs at the MOH in pursuit of higher paying work, better incentives and less pressure offered by neighbouring countries such as Singapore, Australia and West Asia.

The MOH informed Parliament last month that vacancies for nurses stood at 2,106 in 2020, increasing to 2,224 in 2021 and 4,420 in 2022; and the latest figure as of last year was 6,896.

Elaborating, Saaidah said the nursing vacancies are due to various factors, with many nurses resigning due to their pursuit of higher pay and better maternity leave entitlements while others choosing to further their studies in addition to the creation of new services such as the establishment of new units and wards in other clinics and hospitals.

She said this has resulted in nurses in government hospitals having to work overtime, with some even called to return to work despite being on leave due to the shortage of frontliners throughout the country.

“The issue of nurses resigning has resulted in the remaining nurses being forced to work overtime, some from 7am to 9pm, while others have been called to return to work despite them being on leave,” she remarked.

“This has resulted in burnout among nurses to the point some of them have even opted for early retirement.”

The shortage of nurses in the country has further resulted in the drop of the nurse-to-patient ratio, with Malaysia registering a 1:300 ratio, as compared to the 1:200 ratio recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO), said Saaidah.

She said the issue is a serious matter that needs to be taken seriously by the government and the Health Ministry as this could result in congestion in hospitals, which also means longer waiting time for patients.

“The shortage of nurses in the country is an issue that the government must take seriously. If not, we are bound to see a repeat of the COVID-19 situation where the issue becomes an extra burden among healthcare providers,” she added. – April 18, 2024


Main pic credit: Malay Mail 

Subscribe and get top news delivered to your Inbox everyday for FREE