KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 20 – Masjid Tanah MP Mas Ermieyati Samsudin today raised complaints from environmental health officers about staff shortages and a lack of permanent positions in the service.
The Bersatu lawmaker noted that there are only about 6,000 environmental health officers (EHOs) and assistant EHOs nationwide, who are tasked with managing public health related to dengue and other vector control diseases, food safety, and tobacco control, among others.
“Today, I want to touch on our frontliners – the unsung heroes who are rarely mentioned, the environmental health officers, also known as health inspectors,” Mas Ermieyati said in her debate on the motion of thanks on the royal address in the Dewan Rakyat.
“There are two related issues. The first is on the issue of (permanent) positions; many of them are contract officers. Secondly, the position of unit heads for this unit should not just be given to medical officers, but to qualified environmental health officers.”
The Opposition MP also congratulated Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa for taking the “proactive” measure of organising a town hall with doctors this Wednesday.
CodeBlue recently published an anonymous letter by a health inspector, who complained about contract assistant EHOs (who didn’t graduate from the Ministry of Health Allied Health College) not having their contracts renewed after Chinese New Year, following two years of service.
“Failing to act means failing to provide a solid base number of EHOs to support the public health system,” wrote the health inspector.
“Should we wait for another version of the Covid-19 pandemic to understand the role of the EHO in public health? We are not asking much — we only want to be treated fairly, have access to job promotions and permanent posts, prioritise our talent, and stop the politics of replacing our roles with other health care providers who should be posted in the hospital or clinic, not at the health office.”