Lack of human resource in healthcare system needs addressing

KUCHING: Despite the nation’s seemingly healthy doctor-to-population ratio, the severe lack of human resource in the public healthcare system remains a problem.

Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) honorary sec-gen Dr Thirunavukarasu Rajoo said this was evidenced by the rise in burnout syndrome among healthcare personnel in the country, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This issue is exacerbated by the lack of job security and opportunities for career progression faced by our junior contract doctors, who form the bulk of our Covid-19 response teams.

“With this hanging over their heads, is it any wonder that many of them are growing increasingly disillusioned and thinking of leaving the country for greener pastures? Remember that facilities and equipment are only one half of a functioning hospital unit.

“The human resource component is the other half, and it requires serious investment in terms of money and especially time to get trained workers,” he said on Friday (June 25).

Dr Rajoo said while physical capital could be bought in a matter of days, human capital required decades of nurturing. He said if the latter was poorly managed, it would lead to a brain drain.

“Yes, we were informed on the proposal of an extended contract by the Ministry of Health, but we have been waiting for such a resolution since this contract system started in December 2016.

“Even while warding off death in the Covid-19 wards, our junior doctors are still waiting for a fair decision and clarity from the government if they are able to continue working when their contract expires and if they are able to undergo training for specialisation.

“The current contract system is messy, biased and a failure as it has given them uncertainty in their employment in the government service and in their future as healthcare professionals.”

He said many contract doctors were already leaving while waiting for a definitive verdict from the government.