In response to an article published by CodeBlue on 22nd January 2024 titled “Malaysia’s Health Care System is on the Verge of Complete and Utter Collapse — Frustrated Medical Officer”, the Ministry of Health (MOH) acknowledges the raised concerns regarding increased resignations among contract medical officers (MOs) in the public service.
However, it is crucial to approach this matter with a nuanced perspective, recognising that the numbers presented may not fully capture the complexity of the situation. Labeling it as solely mismanagement and attributing it to a flawed policy may oversimplify a multifaceted issue as such.
While the reported surge in contract MO resignations from 475 in 2019 to 1,354 in 2022 is indeed noteworthy, focusing only on these figures provides only one side of the narrative.
Overlooked is the decrease in resignations among permanently appointed MOs, dropping from 915 in 2019 to 342 in 2022.
Additionally, the apparent workforce reduction in the MOH is counterbalanced by the recent confirmation of the permanent appointment of 857 contract MOs, as announced on January 22, 2022.
To grasp the full context, it is imperative to evaluate the dynamics of both resignations and appointments within the health care workforce.
It is also worth highlighting that approximately 60 per cent of resigning contract MOs have opted for opportunities in the private and education sectors. Many have also pursued further studies or ventured into private practice, illustrating the expanding nature of the medical profession.
This diversification emphasises that a medical career extends beyond the confines of the public sector. Despite the challenge of retaining trained MOs, the MOH views professional transitions positively, aligning with the Health White Paper’s spirit to strengthen public-private partnerships.
Even if not serving and pursuing specialisation within the public sector, these MOs continue contributing to the health care ecosystem in various capacities.
Admittedly, the remaining MOs who have resigned from public service often cite personal reasons for their departure, including changing professions, accompanying spouses to foreign countries, and addressing medical issues.
The medical profession demands enduring passion and patience, given the responsibility of caring for patients and empathy for vulnerable populations. Career shifts are understandable, considering the lifelong learning required in the medical field.
As the MOH works towards health reform, strategic optimisation of existing resources, including the workforce, is a priority.
While we welcome increased manpower, it is essential for the media to adopt a constructive perspective, emphasising the consolidation of both public and private sectors.
We prioritise the well-being of MOs and remain committed to providing continuous education, fostering mentorship, and empowering them to shape their career paths.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.