29th June 2021
The Federal Government and the Ministry of Health (MoH) must seriously listen to the grouses and concerns raised by contract Medical Officers and Healthcare professionals rather than threatening them with disciplinary action even if they participate in a planned “#BlackMondayMY” campaign to highlight the needs and concerns of these healthcare professionals.
This is in response to a consistent call from many quarters to resolve the contract situation for junior doctors and healthcare professionals that are deprived of certain rights, privileges and opportunities in comparison to those that were awarded permanent posting, even though they carry the same responsibility and face the same risk of infection at work.
This pandemic has exposed the different gaps and neglect in our healthcare system including the reaffirmed the need for us to invest significantly in our health system including our human resource. These young doctors and health professionals have sacrificed their time and energy, risk their lives even at the expense of not going back home to their families for a duration just so that they do not risk spreading the disease to their loved ones.
That is why these healthcare professionals do not only deserve our gratitude and respect, but more importantly they deserve to be treater fairly, especially during their time of service. That is why I call upon the different Ministries, including the Ministry of Health, Public Service Department (JPA) and other relevant Ministries to come up with a long-term plan to address this issue holistically including being transparent in the selection criteria for permanent employment.
While I understand the limitations and complexity of the issue, but one of the things that the Ministry can clearly address is the transparency of the intake, or criteria of selection for permanent posting or promotion, which is often perceived to be vague and subjective. Such criteria must be fully based on merit and performance and not driven by race, even religion, or even connections.
On top of that, I believe that the government should take an extra step to allow these contract workers similar access to perks enjoyed by the permanent MOs as their responsibility, workload, and even risk is the same.
It is only a policy decision that can be made on a Ministry level, which includes access for them to get special leave, such as hazard leave, study leave etc. On top of that, the government should give them a chance for upward mobility and allow them to apply for Hadiah Latihan Persekutuan (HLP) to further their “Masters” and specialisation in local universities to address the lack of specialists in our country.
The best way we can appreciate our medical frontliners, especially for their service to our country during this pandemic, is to invest in them and give them better security of tenure and, of course, a chance for them to further specialise in their desired Masters programme.
This is, of course, in line with the efforts by the government and hospitals to produce more specialists to address the lack of them nationwide, and also to improve the quality of health care for our patients.
That is why, I call upon all from government, civil society and the public to stand in solidarity with our junior doctors and health professionals as they demand what is rightfully just and fair for them. They have risk their lives to makes sure we are safe, now let us stand in solidarity with them so that they feel “safe” and taken care of in their workplace.
Dr. Kelvin Yii
MP for Bandar Kuching