As Election Looms, Sarawak Gets 150 Permanent Government Doctors

All Sarawakian medical officers from the May 2017 housemanship cohort, who fulfilled criteria, have been offered permanent posts in Sarawak.

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 6 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) has awarded permanent offers to 150 medical officers to serve in Sarawak, ahead of a possible state election this year.

Health Minister Dr Adham Baba said all Sarawakian UD41 medical officers from the May 2017 housemanship cohort, who fulfilled criteria for permanent positions in the public sector, have been offered permanent posts.

“Out of the 150 officers who were offered permanent posts, 66 officers (44 per cent) are Sarawakians, whereas the remaining 84 officers (56 per cent), are officers from the peninsula who are also able to give their full commitment to serving the people of Sarawak,” Dr Adham said in a statement yesterday.

The offers of permanent placements to the 150 medical officers from the second 2017 housemanship cohort, which were approved by the Public Service Commission last September 21, will be backdated to May 15, 2017, the date when these doctors reported for duty as contract officers.

“This time, officers will only be placed at offices and health facilities in the state of Sarawak, taking into account the importance of service and job vacancies. The date for reporting for duty at the Sarawak health department is October 12, 2020,” Dr Adham said.

Dr Adham previously told the Dewan Negara that as of June 30, all 421 positions for medical specialists and 21 spots for dental specialists in the public sector in Sarawak have been filled. There are a total of 2,001 medical officers in Sarawak with 414 vacancies, as well as 257 dental officers with 69 vacancies.

The minister has also said that Sarawak’s doctor-to-population ratio improved to 1:682 in 2019, but the distribution of medical practitioners in the rural state is 1.5 times smaller than Malaysia’s nationwide 1:454 ratio.

A medical officer based in the peninsula questioned why Sarawak was prioritised for permanent doctor placements. Sabah is currently battling serious Covid-19 outbreaks, with 1,384 local cases reported since the past fortnight, compared to just four active cases in Sarawak.

“Sabah is in a similar situation as Sarawak. Why aren’t people sent over?” the medical officer told CodeBlue on condition of anonymity.

According to 2010 statistics cited by Sarawak’s SUPP, seven west coast states from north to south peninsular Malaysia had two to 18 times more medical specialists per 10,000 population 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. Sabah had about half the number of medical specialists per population across all those disciplines, except surgery, compared to Sarawak.

Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg reportedly said last Saturday that the state could be holding its election “any time from now”, while a Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) leader, Michael Manyin Jawong, was quoted saying that the Sarawak state election would likely be held between November and early next year. GPS is a partner of the federal ruling coalition Perikatan Nasional.

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