The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) welcomes the appointment of Dr Zaliha Mustafa as Malaysia’s new Health Minister.
Having been trained in the health care system and running her own private practice, Dr Zaliha will be familiar with the issues on the ground in both public and private health care.
Health care reforms must continue to be a priority and we hope to see the needed improvements carried out under the new leadership in particular on the manpower issues in our public health care system.
The contract doctor issue will be one of the main issues we will be looking to Dr Zaliha’s leadership to resolve. We hope the number of permanent positions being committed for each year for the contract doctors can be improved from the current 1,500. There are an estimated 18,000 contract doctors in the system, with around 3,000 medical graduates entering the system each year.
As health care needs of the population are increasing, working towards a more sustainable health care financing model must also be among the ministry’s priorities.
Health care access, in particular, in the rural areas in the country also needs to improve. As the 2023 budget will likely be reworked and retabled, it is hoped that more meaningful allocations be set aside to improve health care access, in particular, for rural communities in East Malaysia.
More specialists are also needed particularly in geriatric care, as our ageing population is expected to increase by 15 per cent in less than 10 years. To be ready, investments in both health care human resources and infrastructure will need to be planned now for the long term.
More effective prevention strategies are also needed to address the rising cases of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). It is time we explore more collaborative efforts with the 8,000 over private GPs nationwide as prevention at the primary care level will be key.
The MMA will be writing to Dr Zaliha and hopes to meet with her soon on addressing these many concerns.
Dr Muruga Raj Rajathurai is the president of the Malaysian Medical Association.
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