The Health July/August 2022 - Page 3

JULY-AUGUST , 2022 | THE HEALTH

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| The Health says ... |

Stop the rot

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The issue of contract doctors keeps cropping up despite assurances by the government that it will be settled .

The latest is their dissatisfaction with the screening process in applying for a permanent medical officer position . They claimed that no specific guidelines were provided to candidates in filling the applications .
As a result , 3,281 contract doctors who failed the screening for permanent positions will have their applications sent to the Health Ministry for another vetting , the Public Service Commission ( PSC ) said .
With such inefficiency , is it really a wonder contract doctors are leaving in droves even before their contract expires ? A total of 2,032 contract doctors resigned between 2017 and 2021 . Last year alone , 768 quit .
In 2020 , then Health Minister Dr Adham Baba proudly said Malaysia had a doctor to population ratio of 1:450 , comparable to developing countries . So why then are our public hospitals unable to cope and government doctors overworked ?
Is it because most doctors prefer to work in private hospitals ? And are more people turning to public hospitals as private healthcare costs rise significantly ?
The issue now is more than just resolving the woes of contract doctors . Is our country churning out too many doctors , or is there simply a lack of public hospitals to accommodate them ?
We can imagine the scenario with 15,000 to 18,000 medical graduates expected to begin their housemanship from 2023 to 2025 . Coupled with the 23,000 contract doctors as of 2021 , the future looks uncertain .
For one , we should ensure that only those who qualify can enter our public medical schools . It should be based strictly on merit .
We should also build more public hospitals nationwide to hire these new graduates , not to mention training hospitals for housemen . Currently , the public hospitals , especially in the urban areas , are bursting at their seams with patients .
It ’ s unacceptable that medical graduates must wait up to a year to start their housemanship , let alone secure permanent positions later . If nothing is done now , there will be no solution to the yearly influx of medical students and the contract doctor problem .
It ’ s time to stop the rot and put things right . The government should prioritise spending on public healthcare rather than on wasteful mega infrastructure projects . Also , implement an equitable public health insurance scheme immediately .
Health is wealth . A healthy populace will contribute significantly to the wealth of a nation .