KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 20 — The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has urged the government to immediately create more permanent posts for medical officers as part of efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
MMA president Prof Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said that addressing human resource issues in government healthcare is vital in the fight against COVID-19 and beyond.
“The pandemic has underscored the severe understaffing of our workforce, with many doctors forced to be placed on an increased number of calls compared to previously. This shortage of doctors exists at both the specialist and medical officer levels.
“Yet, only a small proportion of contract medical officers have been offered permanent positions in government service, with the fate of the remaining doctors left hanging and unknown,” he said in a statement today.
He thanked the government for recognising the need to boost healthcare in managing the pandemic by giving additional allocations under the Perlindungan Ekonomi dan Rakyat Malaysia (PERMAI) assistance package.
MMA also called on the Health Ministry to improve measures to safeguard the health of all clinical staff, including ensuring constant and adequate supply of quality personal protective equipment (PPE).
Other than physical health, it is also important to look after the psychological and mental health of medical personnel, he said.
On remuneration, MMA is of the view that doctors’ critical allowance should be continued indefinitely without further review, he added.
MMA also asked the government to guarantee that the unused leave of healthcare workers can be carried forward and utilised at a time when the pandemic is manageable.
“Last year, as the country grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic, each state health department had at varying times issued the order to freeze the annual leave of all staff. As such, healthcare workers have excess leave that they were unable to utilise fully in 2020, and this looks likely to recur in 2021 as well,” he said.
Dr Subramaniam said MMA had written officially to Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to seek a meeting on these matters.