Kuala Langat MP Tells Government To Address Health Worker Resignations

Perikatan Nasional’s shadow health minister says the government should also upgrade “unsafe” MOH facilities and offer detailed plans to raise health spending to 5% of GDP in 5 years.

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 15 – Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s coalition government should find a solution to stabilise the health care labour force as more and more workers in the public health care sector quit, says Kuala Langat MP Dr Ahmad Yunus Hairi.

Dr Ahmad Yunus, who is Perikatan Nasional’s shadow health minister, said the government should review the number of staffing needed for government hospitals and health clinics (klinik kesihatan) as labour requirements “may be different than 10-20 years ago”.

“This (long waiting times at government hospitals) is one of the areas that should be looked into by the government. It is not only about upgrading infrastructure but it also involves looking at labour force issues – doctors, nurses, paramedics, allied health care workers – that may not be the same as 10 or 20 years ago. 

“The same goes for facilities and equipment for diagnosis. This should be seen as a whole,” Dr Ahmad Yunus said in response to a concern raised by Kulim-Bandar Baharu MP Roslan Hashim during the former’s debate on the motion of thanks on the royal address today.

Roslan sought Dr Ahmad Yunus’ opinion on overcrowded emergency departments in public hospitals that recently saw an elderly patient waiting for over two hours from 1.45am to 4am, before finally leaving to seek treatment at a private clinic.

“That is why, I think, the reality is, it is not only happening in Selangor but in other states as well. There is a need to improve health care services, including government hospitals, so that in the end, the waiting time can be shortened and people can get the best service.

“That is why I feel that the issue of staff shortages, with doctors, paramedics, and allied health care workers who are leaving public health service – this should be looked at seriously,” Dr Ahmad Yunus said.

Dr Ahmad Yunus, who owns his own polyclinic in Sijangkang, said there is also an urgent need to upgrade some health care facilities that are “unsafe” amid reports of hospital fires and havoc caused by floods.

“There is a need to look at public health infrastructure needs. Most hospitals in our country are still in an unsafe condition, with the fires in hospitals that have happened, and flood waters that can destroy facilities and equipment,” he said.

The 58-year-old PAS MP hopes that the new Budget 2023 that will be retabled next Friday (Feb 24) will provide clearer details and direction on the government’s plan to increase health care spending to 5 per cent in five years, as stated in both Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional’s election manifesto.

The previous Budget 2023 announced in October last year saw an allocation of RM36.14 billion for the Ministry of Health (MOH), an 11.5 per cent increase from RM32.41 billion allocated in Budget 2022.

Although this marked the biggest increase by percentage and absolute terms in the past five years, critics noted that the public health care budget, against the GDP, remained the same at 1.98 per cent as in 2022.

Dr Ahmad Yunus said the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation is for health care spending to make up 6 per cent of a country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

He also highlighted figures from a report by the MOH and the World Health Organization (WHO) revealing that the direct health care costs from diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer in Malaysia exceed RM9.65 billion yearly.

“This is an example of how large an expenditure is needed to improve public health.”

In his debate, Dr Ahmad Yunus also mooted early detection of mental illness in teens, citing a WHO report that shows half of mental health conditions begin as early as age 14. 

The PAS MP said he was “disturbed” by the recent stabbing incident involving a psychiatric patient at Selayang Hospital.

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