The government’s decision to extend the contracts of government doctors, pharmacists and dentists whose service ended late last year or is due for termination this year for the next six months is welcomed, but is actually merely a ‘stop-gap measure” or a short-term fix to the problem without really giving proper assurance and security to our health care workers, especially after the six months.
In the statement released by the Health Minister Dr Adham Baba, they admitted that the extension’s purpose in mainly for the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) objective of handling and breaking the Covid-19 chain of transmission.
While we do need all hands on board to deal with this pandemic at hand, but after these health care workers risk their lives on the frontlines or to help deal with the virus, are we just going to leave them high and dry when things get better?
While I am sure they are more than willing to serve our nation during this pandemic as it is the core of the oath that we all take, but it may not be really fair and equitable to demand this from our health care workers without giving them proper security of tenure, especially in appreciation of their efforts and sacrifice.
On top of that, this move will affect the future of medical doctors that intend to pursue their specialist course or Masters, as they will need clinical experience to complete their specialist training.
The additional six months is insufficient for the needed training and guidance from experienced medical specialists. This is of course not 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.
One of the things this pandemic has revealed is the importance of reforms in health care priorities, especially systemic financing to health care. More investment into health care is really needed, not just to deal with the current pandemic, but also more that will come.
This involves investment into human resources, the core of the health care system. It is health care workers that save patients, and it is into them we must priorities our investment. Investment into the health of our nation will also translate into the wealth of our nation.
This pandemic has shown to us the importance of our health care workers. That is why I echo my earlier call to the government to resolve the contract issues with our health care workers and add more additional permanent postings to them as a sign of appreciation for all their sacrifices and contributions.
Dr Kelvin Yii is Bandar Kuching Member of Parliament.
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