The Malaysian Health Coalition is disappointed by the statements of two Deputy Health Ministers that support the current contract system for frontline Medical Officers (MOs) (as reported here and here on 9 Sept 2020).
We firmly believe that all health professionals must be appropriately recognised for their contribution, skill and sacrifice. Therefore, the Coalition supports the principle of more permanent posts and longer-term contract posts for health professionals in our public sector.
We strongly urge the following:
Find a balance between permanent/contract posts and training/service posts
We acknowledge that creating more permanent posts for health professionals must consider equity for civil servants in other ministries, the government fiscal space and the risk of individual complacency. However, the current two-year contracts for health professionals do not motivate individuals and are not long enough to complete advanced postgraduate training.
Therefore, we urge the government to create more permanent posts and to lengthen the contract duration (for example, five to 10 years with the same grade, pay, and benefits as permanent posts). Permanent posts may be considered for those who possess essential skillsets (such as specialists and advanced nurse practitioners).
All permanent posts must have transparent criteria that include performance metrics and passing recognised postgraduate programmes. Longer contracts (divided into training posts and service posts) can be reserved for other professionals.
All contracts must cover the entire length of postgraduate training, if applicable. Malaysia must create sufficient opportunities for postgraduate training with earlier graduation.
The system must appropriately incentivise individuals, whilst exercising responsibility in managing the national budget.
Distribute doctors and health professionals fairly
The current distribution of health professionals in Malaysia is unfair with many being concentrated on the West coast of Peninsula Malaysia, and too few on the East coast of the Peninsula and in Borneo states (MOH 2013).
Therefore, we urge the government to review the geographic distribution of health professionals to ensure that all Malaysians have equitable access to adequate health services.
Enhance human capital and prevent brain drain
The government must implement sound strategies to retain talent in the public health care service and in Malaysia. Besides more permanent posts and better terms of service, we reiterate our call for better career advancement opportunities and mental health and family support for all health professionals (refer to our previous statements on 25 Aug 2020 and 8 April 2020).
Malaysia’s health professionals deserve the opportunity to excel in our health system. We believe our proposals will strengthen Malaysia’s healthcare system for the future.
The government must focus on providing durable, long-term solutions to make this happen.
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