The Malaysian Health Coalition (MHC) supports all junior health professionals, and supports all recent statements by the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), Malaysian Pharmacists Society (MPS), the Islamic Medical Association of Malaysia (IMAM), Persatuan Kesihatan IKRAM Malaysia (IKRAM Health) and the Malaysian Society for Occupational Safety and Health (MSOSH) on the contract system issue.
We urge the government to provide durable solutions and fair employment terms for all junior health professionals.
The possibility of a strike by junior doctors suggests that the government has failed to adequately protect their welfare.
1. Deploy political will to solve contract doctors' problems now
The issue of contract doctors and other healthcare professionals require joint solutions by the Ministry of Health, Public Service Department (JPA) and potentially the Prime Minister or Cabinet.
Five years of the contract system have led to discontentment, departures from the civil service and Malaysia, and an exhausted health workforce.
Additionally, if MOH is indeed the only ministry with contract posts for professional-grade civil servants, this is an unfair anomaly.
The contract system must be drastically improved with durable and fair solutions to recognize all doctors and health professionals for their service.
Without political will to resolve this issue, the long-term health of the rakyat will suffer.
2. Ensure equality, anti-discrimination and transparency in the Ministry of Health (MOH)
We welcome the reassurance of the Secretary-General of the Health Ministry that employment and promotion within the MOH are based on merit and performance, and not driven by race or religion.
We support equality and reject any discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, age or other characteristics.
We call for transparency in the criteria and decisions for hiring and promotions.
Health professionals serve all rakyat, and a diverse workforce is needed for a culturally diverse Malaysia.
3. Show compassionate and thoughtful leadership
The contract system is treating junior doctors and health professionals like expendable assets.
The government must show compassionate and thoughtful leadership, instead of issuing high-handed press statements that are insensitive.
Junior health professionals have served Malaysia during this pandemic, and we owe them a debt of gratitude that must be repaid through better terms of service.
They should be allowed to make their voices and concerns heard, and meaningful channels for regular engagement should exist without threats of repercussions.
Compassionate and thoughtful leadership will be crucial.
The Black Monday movement will soon take place as a sign of solidarity with junior doctors and health professionals.
Malaysia's most valuable healthcare resource are our health professionals, and we must appropriately recognize their contributions.
Now is the time for durable and fair solutions.