In Rare Move, Health Care Professionals List Demands In GE15

Health care workers across the public and private sectors express hopes for the next government, including fair opportunities for junior doctors and higher allowances for nurses and admin staff.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 – In an unusual show of advocacy in an election campaign, health care professionals have come together to express their demands for the next elected government.

The Malaysian medical fraternity has typically been “apolitical” and hardly raised health care issues, as health is rarely – if ever – an election issue, much less in a general election. 

But this time, moving into the last week of the campaign before the November 19 national polls, health care professionals from across the public and private sectors – including nurses and allied health workers – have spoken up on issues plaguing the health care system and their desired solutions from the next government.  

“As GE15 looms, so many health care professionals have been casually discussing what they hope the new government will bring. Together, we have put some of these voices together,” Prof Dr Woo Yin Ling, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at University of Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC), told CodeBlue.

In three videos, doctors, nurses, and administrative staff called for things like basic facilities and infrastructure in Sabah, fair and equal opportunities for junior doctors, higher allowances, resources for mental health services, and drug procurement without going through agents to obtain cheaper prices.

This is what they said about their hopes for the next government:

Dr Teo, obstetrician and gynaecologist

I want a government that will ensure all doctors are looked after so that we can care for our patients better.

Dr Timothy, orthopaedic surgeon, Duchess of Kent Sandakan Hospital

My hope for the Malaysian health care system, as we approach the 15th general elections, are basic facilities and infrastructure. We need more hospital beds, we need beds that are actually functioning, we need working operating theatre lights, operating theatre tables, autoclave machines, uninterrupted water and electricity supply, and so much more. The list is endless.

My hopes for the Malaysian health care system as we approach the 15th general elections, are number one, human resource and transparency. We need transparent criteria for selection of doctors from contract to permanent positions. We need salary schemes for contract doctors. We need more JUSA positions. We need a review of on-call claims. We need subspecialist allowance and so many more. 

Nur Hidayu, administrative staff, medical laboratory

Harapan saya untuk kerajaan baru, semoga ada harapan untuk kami sebagai pembantu tadbir yang bertugas di hospital khususnya. Harap dapat allowance yang khas untuk kami, yang lebih daripada pembantu tadbir dari jabatan lain.

Sebab hari-hari juga sama-sama bekerja dengan sampel, dengan patient. Dan lagi pada musim Covid ini, kami bekerja keras bersama-sama dengan sepertimana juga staf nurse, doktor.

[My hope for the new government, for us as administrative assistants especially who work in a hospital, is a special allowance for us that’s bigger than for administrative assistants from other departments.

[This is because day in and day out, we work with samples and patients, and especially during this Covid season, we’re working hard just like nurses and doctors].

Sook Yee, genetic counsellor

I hope that we will have more genetic counselling positions in the health service so that we can provide equitable access for all patients throughout the country, so that they can access genetic profiling to help them with disease management and risk management.

Dr Kamaljit, gynaecologist

We’re all looking forward to the coming general elections and I’m hopeful that the next government will be a government of integrity and accountability, and able to carry out the responsibilities it’s shouldered with.

As a health care professional, I’m rather concerned about the future of our public health care system, as we need to help our young doctors in their training programmes on their specialisation. Another concern I have, particularly as a gynaecologist, is the continuity of our HPV vaccination programme, as in the past two years, there has been an interruption in its implementation.

Yong Long, medical student

As a future health care provider, I also hope that we could be given a clear and stable path for our future as a junior doctor, and be provided fair and equal opportunity in our future career and training.

Dr Musa Mohd Nordin, consultant paediatrician and neonatologist

In as much as the reforms of the MOH are long overdue, it is not the be all and and all of the state of the nation’s health. The elimination of poverty, social security for the B40s, good housing, enhancing health literacy and healthy lifestyle, addressing road safety and climate change are powerful influences of people’s health.

Thus, multi-sectoral integration of ministries and agencies is crucial for a successful health reform agenda. 

Dr Low, gynaecologist, Penang (speaking in Hokkien)

I hope that the new government will increase the health care expenditure share of the GDP. Currently, we are at 2.5 per cent, the best is if we could increase it to 5 per cent of the GDP, as recommended by WHO (World Health Organization). 

In terms of drug procurement, better that we purchase straight without going through any agents for cheaper prices. The prime minister, ministers, and all civil servants can exercise more to show a good example to the people. Don’t smoke, eat more fruits and vegetables, and don’t rely on expensive supplements. 

Staff nurse, specialist clinic 

Kami semua daripada sektor kesihatan berharap kerajaan baru ini akan dapat menumpukan lebih perhatian kepada hospital kerajaan dan juga swasta. 

[All of us from the health sector hope that the new government will pay more attention to both public and private hospitals].

Dr Rajeev, obstetrician and gynaecologist, Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC)

An ideal government is one that provides inclusive care for all walks of life, accepts and embraces differences, one that says no to medical discrimination, one that stands firm with all caregivers and providers, even during the darkest times. 

Meng Li, counselling psychologist (speaking in Mandarin)

I hope that the new government will pay more attention to mental health in the health care system. We can see that more and more people are having mental illnesses, but our public hospitals and clinics lack sufficient resources to improve services. 

Hanisah, medical laboratory technologist

Sebagai ibu yang bekerjaya, saya berharap kerajaan baru yang dipilih dapat menambahbaik perkhidmatan di taska dan harga diselaraskan supaya semua ibu yang bekerjaya mampu menghantar anak ke taska. 

[As a working mother, I hope that the new elected government will improve taska services and coordinate prices so that all working mothers can afford to send their children to taska].

Dr Yogee, obstetrician and gynaecologist

I wish for a government that enables women in the rural areas to get adequate access to health care.

Staff nurse, oncology day care unit

Sebagai seorang jururawat, saya berkhidmat di kawasan yang specialist sebagai rawatan harian gynaecology yang melibatkan pesakit pemberian chemotherapy. So risiko kami agak tinggi. Kami ada post basic, kalau boleh, untuk yang ada post basic kena naikkan lagi lah allowance post basic. 

[As a nurse, I work in a specialist area with day gynaecology treatment involving chemotherapy patients, so our risk is rather high. We have post basic, if possible, for those with post basic, our post basic allowance should be increased].

Prof Woo, consultant gynaecologist

Harapan saya semoga kerajaan baru yang dibentuk akan memperkasakan sistem kesihatan dari segi kebajikan staf kesihatan, penjaga dan waris pesakit. Ini akan membolehkan kami semua untuk menjaga pesakit dengan lebih baik. 

[My hope is for the new government to empower our health care system in terms of the welfare of health care workers, and guardians and the next-of-kin of patients. This will enable us all to better take care of patients].

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