KUALA LUMPUR, July 23 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) does not list work in the interiors as a criterion for government doctors, dentists, and pharmacists to be considered for permanent posts in the public sector.
Health Minister Dr Adham Baba told Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii (DAP) — who asked if the government gives special consideration of permanent posts to health workers who are willing to work in the interiors — that the placement of officers at health facilities nationwide, be it in urban or rural areas, or the interiors, was based on need of service.
“Officers who are interested to serve in the interiors can apply to fill vacancies in the placement.
“At this time, serving in the interiors has not been made one of the criteria for the consideration of permanent appointments,” Dr Adham said in a written Parliament reply yesterday.
CodeBlue reported yesterday that west coast peninsular Malaysia had two to 18 times more specialists compared to Sarawak, and between three and 33 times more than Sabah, across the anaesthesiology, surgery, orthopaedic surgery, medicine, paediatrics, and obstetrics and gynaecology departments, based on 2010 data from the Clinical Research Centre.
Dr Adham added that MOH would prioritise medical officers who passed their membership examination or entrance examination for specialist study in the parallel pathway (training outside local programmes) for permanent positions in the civil service.
“The government is rather considerate and understands the complaints of contract officers, especially among medical officers.
“However, the government, as per the Medical Act 1971, is only obliged to provide medical graduates placements for housemanship training and compulsory service.”
Dr Adham pointed out that the Public Service Size Control Policy states that new positions can only be created through trade-offs.
The Public Service Department has approved the “trade-off” of 10,675 new permanent positions in phases to fill vacancies at new and upgraded health facilities, comprising 997 medical officers, 282 pharmacy officers, and 154 dental officers.
“With the approval of those positions, some contract officers can be considered for permanent positions,” Dr Adham said.
As of March 31 this year, MOH has appointed 35,506 contract officers, comprising 18,838 medical officers, 5,103 pharmacy officers, and 4,130 dental officers.
The health minister said consideration of permanent positions depended on vacancies, besides filling conditions of appointment and merit criteria, but he did not explain further.
Dr Adham’s recent Parliament reply telling contract doctors to finance their own specialist study and go abroad, due to their ineligibility for the Hadiah Latihan Persekutuan (HLP) scholarship for local training, has outraged junior doctors and medical groups.
The Malaysian Medics International (MMI) said even if doctors are able to pay for their own specialist training, they may not be able to complete it as their two-year compulsory government service falls short of the required training period. Postgraduate specialty training for doctors requires a minimum of four years, which begins after the completion of housemanship.