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LETTER | Addressing healthcare manpower shortage crisis

LETTER | Malaysian Medics International would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the Health Ministry for the initiative to amend the Medical Act 1971 in the upcoming Parliament meeting.

We appreciate and understand that this would mark a huge milestone in resolving the issues pertaining to the parallel pathway programme.

Moreover, this would also be a vital component in mitigating the healthcare professional shortage crisis.

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad

An article released on June 6 by CodeBlue highlights the input provided by Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad on their intention to ensure the reform and multi-faceted approach is conducted seriously.

This is aligned with the manpower shortage crisis in healthcare which is a vital issue as the mental and physical health of staff are also at stake.

An article released last week by CodeBlue identifies the shortage crisis to be more prominent with the prolonged waiting time at the emergency department.

Moreover, the imbalance of workload and the low salary have discouraged healthcare professionals from working in government services.

The solution provided was to introduce social health insurance with co-payment, collaborate with private medical centres and hospitals and narrow the salary gap in government and private medical sector.

Thus, we humbly call upon the Health Ministry and the relevant departments to consider the following:

Clarify implementation of current plan

The current plan highlights that social health insurance should cover private healthcare facilities with significantly higher co-payments also to allow access for the M40 group.

Moreover, reassessing the salary discrepancies between private and public health is important. For years, it has been predicted that the burden of the shortage of manpower in healthcare would pose a huge challenge, and we can soon see it becoming a reality.

Many facilities in Malaysia have already started facing this issue, hence raising doubts as to when this matter would be resolved before complicating the situation.

The Health Ministry should proactively engage in this initiative as the issue of salary has been a longstanding barrier in the medical field and has brought many challenges for healthcare professionals.

It should be aware that extending the hours at health clinics and mobilising staff to high-demand departments still require the cooperation of healthcare professionals.

Hence, it should be understood that the salary increase is justified in terms of the high workload, long duration of services as well as the rise in the cost of daily living.

The ministry and the relevant departments should act fast in resolving matters before the healthcare field crumbles under the huge burden of challenges.

Furthermore, a clear and structured career pathway should be developed for healthcare professionals in the public sector. This would allow healthcare practitioners to have an appropriate time frame that prioritises career progression without causing a bottleneck effect.

Clarify statistics of new initiative’s acceptance

Social health insurance with co-payment is suggested to be an important step towards a sustainable healthcare system.

The scheme would be provided by a non-profit-driven government organisation to ensure the cost-effectiveness and affordability of the insurance scheme.

However, a challenge that may arise is the acceptance of this solution among the citizens as well as the duration for the full effectiveness to assure a successful outcome.

Therefore, a research or pilot study could be carried out to provide us with the statistics of acceptance among citizens of different incomes.

This would provide healthcare professionals, government organisations and citizens with accessible information and data transparency for a more inclusive discussion pertaining to these problems.

Moreover, including the public in this topic would instil a feeling of accountability and empathy for the healthcare system.

In conclusion, we urge the Health Ministry to consider and address the aforementioned issues promptly. This theme is a great concern for the healthcare field and should be resolved as soon as possible.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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