Many Malaysians continue to watch series such as Grey’s Anatomy or even The Good Doctor, where physicians struggle valiantly to care and do the best for their patients.
But even in these series, you often see in the background that these ‘heroes’ do not work alone — there are many others who work alongside them and are essential in providing holistic patient care.
Delivering health care is a team effort, and an essential part of this is provided by different types of health care professionals, including allied health professionals.
When the term ‘health care professionals’ is used, many people mistakenly think it refers only to doctors. This term is a wider term that refers to those who have usually been awarded professional qualifications or degrees in fields such as medicine, dentistry, nursing, clinical psychology, pharmacy, and more.
Allied health professionals make up another range of health care professionals, providing diagnostic, technical, therapeutic, and supportive health care services within the health landscape.
Allied health professionals include dental assistants, dental technicians, cardiovascular technicians, dietitians, electrocardiogram technicians, environmental health officers, endoscopy technicians, therapists, and radiographers.
While doctors’ issues are often raised in the media, the plight of other non-medical health care professionals, including allied health professionals, receive little, if any attention at all. These professionals also face a few issues in their careers and daily lives.
In a report published by NCD Malaysia looking into challenges faced by health care workers, there have been a few grouses voiced by non-medical health care professionals.
Chief among this is the fact that they lack incentives to progress in their careers, and also a lack of appropriate remunerations. Many non-medical health care professionals report that they do have ‘specialties’ or specifically focused training for them to carry out their tasks once they have completed their initial professional training.
While they have been asked to carry out specific and focused care-related tasks, they have received no recognition such as additional remunerations for these jobs.
Non-medical health care professionals have also received little extra financial compensation for performing their tasks long after their official working hours.
Interestingly, this is not a problem that happens only in the public sector. Colleagues working in the private sector also report an initial higher salary when they are recruited into the private sector, but the remuneration will plateau after that.
With little to no career progression and limited incentivisation, non-medical health care professionals are faced with quandaries and existential questions. Fewer are coming into the field, some migrate to work overseas for much better remuneration, and many junior personnel within the landscape are leaving for other jobs outside health care.
A sad example of this is how Malaysia is now forced to recruit foreign nurses to fill the gap in terms of providing services in private hospitals, since there is an acute shortage of nurses. This is a situation that is predicted to continue across the non-medical health care professional sector, which is something that is worrying and distressing for everyone.
The health care landscape needs a well-organised and well-run infrastructure in order to deliver all the different aspects of care. This has become more important in long-term care, as far as non-communicable disease patients are concerned. But without anyone to care about the carers, what is going to happen to proper care?
This article was written by Dr Janice Hew Pei Fang, Mohamad Ishak Ahmad Abir, Thaarenee Wiswannadan, Nariza Alysa Azryn, Dr Jessica Anne Canute, Mahirah Ma’som, Chan Wan Thung, Dr Murallitharan Munisamy, and Dr Saunthari Somasundaram from NCD Malaysia.
NCD Malaysia is the Malaysian chapter of the Global NCD Alliance, comprising 16 organisations that advocate for people living with non-communicable diseases. For further information about NCD Malaysia, please visit the NCD Malaysia Facebook and Instagram pages.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.