MCA: Address Crisis In Public Health Care System

MCA deputy treasurer-general Lawrence Low tells the government to take CodeBlue’s survey among health care workers seriously and to increase MOH’s 2023 budget, saying: “Will the government only take action after things go out of control?”

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 7 – MCA is the first political party to express concern about the crisis in Malaysia’s public health care system, following CodeBlue’s survey among government health care workers.

MCA deputy treasurer-general Lawrence Low told the federal government to increase the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) allocation in the upcoming 2023 budget. 

“The country’s health care system faces a looming crisis if staff at the Ministry of Health are resolving to quit their jobs because of current workplace pressures,” Low said in a statement today.

“Therefore, the government needs to do something to improve the current system to prevent unintended incidents from happening later. 

“Among the problems faced by MOH staff are an inefficient system; workload and work pressures; unfair pay; and insufficient staff in critical areas.”

Low told the government to take CodeBlue’s survey “seriously”, citing findings from the permanent staff subset that showed 62 per cent of health care workers in permanent positions want to quit their jobs; 41 per cent are willing to go on strike; and more than 70 per cent are overworked, underpaid, and burned out.

About 58 per cent of respondents among permanent staff are medical officers, while 23 per cent are medical specialists or subspecialists.

“The question is – does the government want to further delay [resolving] this issue? Will the government only take action after things go out of control? To me, prevention is better than cure. This is what the government should be doing now.”

MCA, a Barisan Nasional (BN) component party, is part of the unity government led by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.

CodeBlue’s survey among 1,652 health care professionals and workers in the public sector last month – across both permanent and contract staff – showed that 95 per cent believe the public health care system is currently in crisis, 98 per cent are angry at the situation, 73 per cent are thinking of quitting their jobs, and 52 per cent are willing to go on strike.

More than 70 per cent of respondents – coming from every state and federal territory in the country – complained of being overworked, underpaid, and burned out.

Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa, who is from PKR, tweeted yesterday that her team visited a busy emergency department (ED) at a large quaternary hospital, which she did not name, and found that patients were “stuck in ED”. She did not specify how long patients were stranded in the emergency room.

She also listed measures that are currently being taken, such as “acknowledgement of the scale of the problem”, “internal discussion and direction regarding staffing and opening up of more beds”, and “empowering leadership on the ground”.

The New Straits Times, in an editorial published last Friday, said it was not surprised at CodeBlue’s survey findings, with the English-language newspaper describing the situation of the public health care system as “code red”. Code red and code blue are universal hospital codes that refer respectively to a fire incident and an adult medical emergency involving cardiac or respiratory arrest. 

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