Strike Won’t Solve Problems, Be More Mature: Zaliha Tells Government Health Workers

Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa tells aggrieved government health care workers to be more “mature” and to avoid going on strike, saying this will not solve problems, while DG Hisham says those planning to strike should not compromise patient safety.

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 15 – Dr Zaliha Mustafa today urged government health care workers not to go on strike, amid swelling anger in the public health service with working conditions.

In a TikTok video, the health minister said she heard about a purported “unannounced” walkout from work, but was uncertain whether a strike would happen. 

“Whatever the case, I am telling everyone who may be involved in this matter, or who may try to be involved, to know that this actually will not solve problems,” Dr Zaliha said.

“The best way is for us to meet; all of you can come to see me,” she added.

Dr Zaliha, who is also a private general practitioner (GP), stressed that she understood the “problems” – without specifying further – due to her background as a medical doctor.

“I am resolved to solve this problem. If I could, I would solve the problems today itself. But we must understand that I need some time to understand it better so that we can come up with the best solutions,” said the PKR lawmaker.

“So I ask all of you – please think in a more mature and better way. You can come and meet me, contact my officers. God willing, we will meet in person and finally, we will get to solve this problem in a way that benefits everyone.”

Earlier in the Dewan Rakyat today, Dr Zaliha said she would meet with state health directors and hospital directors on February 28, but did not specify when she would meet health care workers on the ground.

Last Sunday, Ipoh Timor MP Howard Lee Chuan How highlighted a potential “unannounced” strike by health care workers, saying that he would not support industrial action that is not announced in advance, while stressing that poorly treated health care workers cannot be blamed either.

The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) said in a statement yesterday that it has similarly heard of a possible strike. Although the doctors’ group said that it does not condone industrial action, the MMA stressed that public health care workers have reached their limits.

Malay Mail reported Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah as telling reporters at an event earlier today that health care workers should not go on strike to avoid compromising patient safety.

A nationwide CodeBlue survey among more than 1,600 government health care professionals and workers last month, predominantly Ministry of Health (MOH) staff, revealed widespread anger and dissatisfaction at working conditions in the understaffed public health service, particularly with problems of being severely overworked and underpaid. 

A whopping 95 per cent said that the public health care system is currently in crisis, while 98 per cent expressed anger at the situation.

More than half expressed willingness to go on strike, while 83 per cent feel that the government isn’t serious about addressing issues in the public health care system.

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