Just less than a week after medical officers who received their reporting orders to Sarawak were made to scramble for commercial flights to Kuching, a Facebook post released on April 20, 2021 showed a photo of Assistant Medical Officers in a Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) plane being ferried to Kuching.
Assistant Medical Officers (AMOs), also known as medical assistants, play an important role in Malaysian health care teams. Usually deployed in emergency response teams, emergency departments, operating theatres, and health care clinics, they are instrumental in carrying out a significant portion of the day-to-day work in caring for our patients.
Many junior doctors, myself included, have benefited greatly from learning from and alongside senior AMOs.
When that photo surfaced, you can imagine just how exasperated we medical officers were.
Our dismay was not because of the fact that AMOs were prioritised before us medical officers for transfer via special RMAF flights. It was not because of the fact that these AMOs were even given “special treatment” by way of an organised, all-expenses-covered flight to Kuching.
As we emphasise time and again, AMOs are our comrades in the battlefield against diseases (in this particular case, Covid-19) and an invaluable part of our health care ecosystem. We are glad that they did not have to go through the frustration and confusion we experienced.
But this photo simply begs the question – if RMAF flights were an option, why weren’t medical officers offered this? Why threaten us to be in Sarawak on time by hook or by crook, OR ELSE?
The Sarawak State Health Department has since approved, in an official letter dated April 21, 2021, most requests for postponement of reporting date, up till May 2, 2021 (a two-week postponement). But you can be sure that this has left a bitter taste in our collective mouths.
It is perhaps high time that the Ministry of Health (MOH) relooks its policies regarding the reassignment of its employees, be they medical officers or otherwise.
An advance notice of two weeks to a month would help greatly in allowing us to make the necessary arrangements to move from one state to another.
This would also eliminate the flood of requests for postponements of reporting dates, which would invariably occur every time, cutting down on unnecessary administrative work.
And IF emergency deployments are required at short notice, we are sure most people would be excited to board a chartered RMAF flight to their destinations on MOH’s orders.
CodeBlue is publishing this letter anonymously because of the government’s gag order on civil servants.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.