SIBU: Autonomy for everything pertaining to the practice of medicine in Sarawak has been mooted as the solution to counteract the rampant discrimination against the state by the Ministry of Health (MOH), the Public Service Department (PSD) and the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC).
On Monday (July 20), Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) president Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian in an interview with Codeblue, proposed the formation of the Sarawak Medical Council (SMC) which will be the only organisation that functions to register and regulate medical practice in the state and that SMC will operate independently from MMC nationwide.
SUPP Education Bureau chairman Datuk Ding Kuong Hiing voiced his support of Dr Sim’s proposal. He expounded on the rationale for the formation of the SMC.
“MOH has not taken into consideration the dire circumstances surrounding the number of doctors serving in the state. From December 2019 to February 2020, MOH and PSD in Kuala Lumpur created 100 permanent positions for Sarawak hospitals.
“However, less than 10 percent of these permanent positions were offered to medical officers (MOs) from Sarawak. Furthermore, 30 MOs from the Peninsula refused to serve in Sarawak but these 30 permanent positions were not subsequently offered to MOs from Sarawak.
“Instead, the 30 vacancies were once again offered to the MOs from the Peninsula. Only MOs from Sarawak will serve in the state permanently and be more dedicated. This is one of the many injustices experienced by the MOs from Sarawak,” he said in a press conference on Wednesday (July 22).
Ding, who is also the Meradong assemblyman and the Malaysian Junior Doctors 2020 protem chairman said that on April 15, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba had announced that he would offer 79 MO positions on a contract basis (for a period of six months).
“As far as we know, there are as many as 10 MOs offered in Sarawak hospitals. However, only four MOs from Sarawak are reported to be on duty. Six medical officers from the Peninsula did not report for duty in hospitals in Sarawak,” he said.
According to Ding, there are 33 councillors at MMC per the existing Medical Act 1971. He went on to suggest that all 33 seats in MMC be elected in accordance with the principles of democracy.
He further opined that the Health director-general does not necessarily have the calibre to be the MMC chairman.
He also stressed that many MMC members also voiced their doubts about the distribution of nine hall seats given to local medical institutions and six hall seats appointed by the Health Minister.
“All these show that the Kuala Lumpur-based MOH does not have the understanding of nor the requisite sympathy for the local medical situation in Sarawak. Therefore, SMC must be formed immediately,” Ding said.
He noted that Sarawak needs more specialist hospitals in Sibu, Bintulu and Miri. For example, Sibu Hospital covers the area of Sungai Rejang with an estimated population of 500,000 people but there are not enough experts in the field of neurology, midwifery, gynaecology and others.
Currently, the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) in Kuching is the only public hospital in Sarawak that has sub-specialists. Furthermore, experts from the Peninsula will return to their place of origin after completing their specialist training in Sarawak.
“The role of the SMC will therefore be to ensure that Sarawak’s voice will be fully entertained by MMC, MOH and PSD,” he said.