MPS Wants More Transparency In Hiring Of Government Medical Professionals

The Malaysian Pharmacists Society wants to know the basis on how the government decides how many doctors, dentists, and pharmacists to recruit into the health service, besides calling for a bigger role for community pharmacies in Peka B40.

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 27 — The Malaysian Pharmacists Society (MPS) has urged the government to explain its rationale in deciding how many medical professionals to recruit into the public health service.

Although MPS president Amrahi Buang supported the increased 2023 budget for the Ministry of Health (MOH), he felt that the government ought not to simply look at the number of medical personnel it is hiring, but to be transparent when it comes to determining the criteria for the number of staff that is actually needed.

“Well, look at it this way, my question will be like this: ‘How do you calculate the number of doctors that you need in KKM (Ministry of Health)? How many dentists do you need in KKM? How many pharmacists do you need in KKM?

“Let’s be transparent on what ratio we are talking about.

“We are picking numbers. We want to see what is actually the requirement based on what standard. Because even though we are picking numbers only, we want to ask, ‘Okay, how come you got to this calculation? And do you think this is enough?’” Amrahi told CodeBlue in an interview last Friday after Budget 2023 was tabled in Parliament.

Amrahi also held that these requirements will be subject to change with the introduction of the Health White Paper, as, according to him, there will be a shift from curative care to health care promotion.

“I would say that you give them breathing space. I would say I support the budget because there is an increase overall. We have to be fair,” Amrahi said.

“But, what I’m trying to say for this year, we have to let it go because there’s a short time enough to go. So let them do, [and] once we are clear in terms of the Health White Paper, then the whole thing will change.

Referring to the Peka B40 health screening programme, Amrahi also argued that community pharmacists should be included as a place where Malaysians can go to get screened and to not restrict the screening locale to public and private clinics.

Based on ProtectHealth Corporation’s website, screening for Peka B40 recipients can be carried out at any MOH clinics and private clinics registered with Peka B40.

Though Amrahi does not take issue with this, he asks that community pharmacists be included under the scheme as it is cheaper to be screened at community pharmacies.

“The government is saying, alright, they will outsource under the Peka B40 whatever. You can go to the GP.

“Based on that statement, we want to tell the government that where is the thing that we are talking about when you talk about minor illnesses: cough, cold, fever. The normal symptoms, especially when you talk about headache, fever, and so on and so forth. You don’t get admitted, it’s actually cheaper in the community pharmacy.

“If they want to say give to the GP it is up to them, but open up to the community pharmacists as well.

“Screening can be done, health screening can be done in community pharmacies.”

The MPS president asserts that there needs to be a mindset change and that it is time that the government recognises the role of community pharmacies in the health care system, especially when it comes to public health literacy.

“Mindset kita kena berubah. When you talk about advising patients on medicine. Medicine literacy is very low. Health literacy is very low. You want to take medicine also, they don’t know. So, a lot of wastage.

“So, we want to play a role, and recognise us community pharmacy [so] that we can play a role in the health care system.”

MMA: More Clarity Needed For the 1,500 Positions

Dr Muruga Raj Rajathurai, president of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), held that more clarity is needed on the 1,500 new positions for permanent and contract medical, dental, and pharmacy officers.

“More clarity is also needed on the 1,500 positions that have been allocated for MOs, dental officers, and pharmacists.

“It needs to be noted that although this year’s budget is higher than last year’s, the pandemic is now well under control, therefore we believe more funds should be available for utilisation,” said Dr Muruga in a written statement.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, who is also finance minister, announced last Friday the government’s allocation of RM36.3 billion for the MOH in Budget 2023, out of which RM 3 billion is allocated specifically for appointing approximately 1,500 new permanent and contract medical, dental, and pharmacy officers.

“However, the number of new posts (permanent and contract) that will be created does fall short of our expectations given that there are shortages in manpower and a high number of contract doctors in the system,” Dr Muruga said.

“MMA is aware the health minister has been lobbying with MOF and JPA (Public Service Department) for an increase in permanent positions.”

Dr Muhammad Yassin, spokesman for Hartal Doktor Kontrak (HDK), in an immediate response to the Budget 2023 announcement, simply said that the contract doctors’ group was unclear about the creation of 1,500 new positions.

“We are as much unclear on this matter as you are. We do hope the government will explain further on this announcement.”

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