Be Thankful To The Government, Deputy Minister Tells Contract Doctors

Aaron Ago Dagang says Malaysia is flooded with doctors.

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 9 — Deputy Health Minister Aaron Ago Dagang told doctors in the public sector to be thankful that the government was willing to employ them on contract.

The Kanowit MP from Sarawak said the government is getting three additional hospitals to provide housemanship, besides also attempting to recruit private hospitals to train medical graduates.

“After training, the thing is that they may not get the job, but even then they should be thankful. If they don’t get the job, we still engage them as contract doctors,” Aaron said at the “Program Live Streaming Abas Orang Kamek (AOK): Kafe Kamek” yesterday at the Ministry of Health (MOH) headquarters in Putrajaya, organised by MOH and the Sarawak Public Communications Unit, Sarawak Volunteers, Pejabat Perhubungan Sarawak, and CATS FM. (Watch the video from minute 46:15).

“We don’t want them to lie down not doing anything. We want them to get new learning, get themselves specialised in certain things, specialised in the job as a doctor.

“I think, for them, it’s not an issue of not [being] employed, but it’s an issue of upgrade [sic] themselves. So I think they should be thankful to the Malaysian government.”

Aaron Ago Dagang, Deputy Health Minister II

Aaron also said although the government has imposed a moratorium since 2016 on new medical intakes in local universities, the government cannot control the number of people studying medicine abroad. He pointed out that the number of overseas medical graduates has doubled from 3,000 annually previously to 6,000 now.

“So this is the issue. Our country is flooded with doctors. We don’t have enough slots for them to be trained.”

Despite the glut of medical graduates in Malaysia, the government revealed last December that the number of patient visits to MOH hospitals and clinics has quadrupled in a decade, from 17 million visits in 2008 to 77 million in 2018. Health analysts say that the 6.6 per cent increase of MOH’s budget for 2020 to RM31 billion did not suffice, as government health spending still hasn’t reached 4 per cent of Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Deputy Health Minister I Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali told the Senate separately yesterday that MOH would continue the contract system for health care workers, citing the World Health Organization (WHO) that judged Malaysia had sufficient capacity in handling pandemics.

Health Minister Dr Adham Baba recently announced at the Dewan Rakyat that Malaysia has one doctor for every 454 people nationwide, as well as a 1:186 ratio of doctors and nurses to the population, surpassing WHO’s recommendation. The WHO goal ratio of health care workers comprising both doctors and nurses is 1 to 225 people.

Junior doctors have complained that the contract system, which came into force under the Barisan Nasional administration in December 2016, would leave many jobless after completing their two-year compulsory service, as they would not have sufficient time to complete their specialisation training that takes at least four years post-housemanship.

They have also complained about the different civil service grades between the UD41 contract and UD44 permanent medical officers that result in a differential annual salary of nearly RM8,000, besides the lack of unrecorded and child care leave for contract doctors, and hazard leave for contract medical officers from departments like radiology and psychiatry.

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