MMA: Provide Five To 10-Year Projection Of Needed Health Care Human Resources

While welcoming PM’s commitment to provide 12,800 permanent positions for doctors within 3 years, MMA says there should be a long-term projection of 5 to 10 years for needed health care human resources, besides saying a health commission may be needed too.

KUALA LUMPUR, April 5 – The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) urged the government today to plan public health care human resources for the long term.

While the doctors’ group welcomed Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s announcement yesterday that 12,800 permanent positions would be provided for contract doctors within three years, MMA pointed out that around 3,000 medical graduates enter the public health care system annually.

“There should be a five to 10-year projection of the health care human resources that will be needed and milestones set to achieve the targets,” MMA president Dr Muruga Raj Rajathurai said in a statement.

“The plan should include the targeted number of doctors, specialists, pharmacists, radiologists, allied health care personnel and other health care staff. MMA had asked JPA (Public Service Department) for a five to 10-year projection but have yet to receive a response.”

Despite numerous anecdotes of resignations of health care professionals from the public health service, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has not published data on the actual shortage, or gap between the actual need and the number of positions needed. 

MOH’s Annual Report 2021 – while acknowledging there is still a shortage despite an increased supply of medical officers – did not provide any data on the gap. The report also did not provide details on vacancies by profession.

“There may be a need for a health commission for the purpose of planning, hiring and managing the public health care workforce and its wages, as the needs in the health care sector greatly differ from that of other government departments,” Dr Muruga said.

“The population is growing and so too are the health care needs. To set up the commission, certain reforms will be needed in the financing of health care and its human resources.

“Additionally, we may also need to review the intake of medical students to match the supply to the demand for doctors in the future.”

The recruitment of civil servants in the public sector currently falls under the Public Services Commission (SPA). 

Some medical experts have called for a health service commission to manage the human resources of health care professionals separately from other civil servants.

Besides additional permanent positions in the service, MMA has also called for a raise in doctors’ on-call allowances, but Anwar told Parliament yesterday that the government believed the current rate was still appropriate, compared to the rate of allowance received by other services.

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