KUALA LUMPUR, June 21 – About 15 per cent of medical specialists employed by the Ministry of Health (MOH) are currently stationed in Sabah and Sarawak.
As of March 31, 2023, Sabah has 503 medical specialists, accounting for 7.3 per cent of the MOH’s 6,912 overall specialist workforce, while Sarawak has 539 medical specialists, making up 7.8 per cent of the total, according to Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa.
Additionally, the MOH has also placed 62 pre-specialty medical officers in Sabah and 59 in Sarawak. These officers work under the supervision of experienced medical specialists, contributing to the specialised scopes of practice in the states.
After completing their specialisation, the medical officers are encouraged to remain in Sabah and Sarawak, ensuring the continued availability of expertise.
“In line with the concept of Malaysia Madani and the Malaysia Agreement 1963, the MOH is constantly striving to improve the quality and capabilities of the health care system in Sabah and Sarawak, particularly in specialised services,” Dr Zaliha said in a written parliamentary reply last June 6 to Saratok MP Ali Biju.
Biju had asked about the MOH’s efforts to encourage more medical specialists to be placed in Sabah and Sarawak, in addition to creating job opportunities in the health and medical field for young people in both regions.
Dr Zaliha said the MOH is taking steps to increase the number of medical specialists in Sabah and Sarawak. These measures include placing medical specialists to serve for a minimum of two years in hospitals within the Sabah and Sarawak clusters.
Additionally, the MOH plans to reappoint contract medical specialists based on critical areas of expertise needed in Sabah and Sarawak. Currently, there are five contract medical specialists serving in Sabah and two in Sarawak. The MOH is also encouraging more medical officers from Sabah and Sarawak to apply for and pursue specialisation programmes, such as the Medical Scholars Programme with study leave and the Federal Training Award.
The ministry also aims to foster partnerships between public and private health care facilities, including outsourcing specialised services with permission. To support these initiatives, an allocation of RM32 million has been provided for outsourcing services in Sabah and Sarawak between 2020 and 2022.
The government has also introduced additional incentives to attract more medical specialists to serve in Sabah and Sarawak.
The Placement Incentive Payment for Medical and Dental Specialists (BIPP) offers varying rates based on the location of the healthcare facility. Facilities located in urban areas are eligible for placement incentives ranging from RM500 to RM2,000 per month, while health care facilities in rural areas provide incentives of RM1,000 to RM2,500 per month for medical specialists.
The government also offers Regional Incentive Payments at a rate of 12.5 per cent to 25 per cent of monthly salary. Medical officers serving in approved remote health care facilities receive Location and Hardship Allowances ranging from RM500 to RM1,500 per month.
Additional incentives include a 10 per cent Rural Incentive Payment for officers and specialist incentives ranging from RM1,900 to RM3,100 per month. These incentives aim to make serving in Sabah and Sarawak more attractive to medical specialists.