Health Care Workers Are Our Invaluable Assets — Dzulkefly Ahmad

Dr Dzul says there’s no quick fix for human resource issues. The MOH agrees on prioritising health care workers’ well-being, including better work-life balance and fair compensation, and is revisiting practices like long on-call hours.

Health care workers, our most invaluable assets, are deserving of our comprehensive support. We thank CodeBlue, who has often highlighted their plights, including, but not limited to, burnout cases across Malaysian hospitals. 

That countries globally are similarly grappling with these dire health care challenges was acutely observed at the recent World Health Assembly. In a 2023 testimony to its House of Representatives, officials admitted that the Philippines is facing a shortage of over 114,000 physicians and 127,000 nurses. 

Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to this perennial problem of human resources. We also completely concur with the call for a paradigm shift that prioritises the wellbeing of our health care workers.

This includes fostering a healthier work-life balance and fair compensation structure. Keeping this in mind, the Ministry of Health (MOH) is earnestly revisiting long-standing practices such as excessively long on-call hours.

The MOH has undertaken a multifaceted approach to mitigate these challenges, including:

  • Optimising patient distribution through hospital clustering.
  • Exploring public-private partnerships for outsourcing services.
  • Mobilising staff to high-demand departments.
  • Extending operating hours at health clinics (Klinik Kesihatan) to alleviate the strain on public hospitals.
  • Identifying workforce gaps through an ongoing supply and demand survey locally, in collaboration with the World Bank.

While we hope for the expansion of our human resources, admittedly, our fiscal space is limited, hence we have introduced, among other reforms, the contract for service system in 2016.

Addressing these constraints will necessitate critical reforms and a financing strategy to build a sustainable and resilient health care system.  We are now undertaking these reforms seriously. 

To our dedicated health care professionals, we implore for your patience as we navigate this critical transformative journey. Your understanding and continuing contributions are deeply valued as we strive for positive change.

Rest assured, we are committed to addressing these issues with utmost seriousness and pledge to strengthen our strategies wherever and whenever necessary.

Let us maintain an open dialogue as we move forward together.

Dzulkefly Ahmad is the Malaysian Health Minister.

  • This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.

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