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In the midst of this nasty and deadly pandemic, things appear to be beyond our control. The best we could do is to shield our medical frontliners before the outbreak heightens further than it already is. 

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In accordance to the guidelines set for our medical professionals, Datuk Dr. M. Subramaniam, President of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), highlighted a few human resource grouses that are a cause for concern requiring full government implementation as the medical frontliners battle the global pandemic.

Hence, MMA has been very vocal during the entire 2020 phase in addressing the needs of all medical practitioners to be looked upon seriously by the government, as thousands in the medical fraternity sacrifice their time and jeopardise their health to ensure that we get the best care as possible in combatting the global outbreak.

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To this, Dr Subramaniam expressed;

“These issues, if left to fester, will affect the standard of healthcare in the country over time.” 

Permanent positions and contract extensions

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In a media statement, Dr Subramaniam stated that the pandemic has highlighted serious under-staffing in the healthcare workforce, thus many doctors are forced to make an increased number of calls compared to the usual days.

“However, only a small proportion of contract medical officers have been offered permanent positions in government services, with the fate of the remaining doctors left hanging,” he voiced his concern and that of the entire medical association.

He also called the government to quickly establish more permanent positions for medical officers to ensure sufficient staff to continue the fight against Covid-19 and future pandemics, along with regular medical services.

“The remainder of the non-permanent medical officers must be offered an extended contract of at least one year in order to allow them further specialisation and progress in their medical careers,” said Dr Subramaniam.

MMA hopes that the government will soon provide more details on the additional recruitment of 3,500 healthcare staff, announced under the Permai assistance package, whether permanent or contract positions, and if there are positions created for doctors.

Safeguarding the health of all clinical staff

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He also called on for the Health Ministry’s stock of high-grade, high-quality personal protective equipment (PPE) to be closely monitored to ensure constant and sufficient supplies as daily use increases with the worsening of the pandemic situation.

Apart from that Dr Subramaniam also said that the psychological and mental health of healthcare workers is also central in ensuring that they can continue to serve at their best.

“The Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) hotline proved to be invaluable during the first wave of Covid-19, and MMA strongly suggests that the Health Ministry look to provide more resources for similar initiatives,” he added.

Welfare and support for healthcare workers

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The doctor also said that Covid-19 allowances must also be extended to all staff exposed to the clinical environment. “In terms of financial remuneration, MMA takes the view that the Critical Allowance for Doctors should be continued indefinitely without further review,” he stated.

Healthcare workers’ annual leave

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He also said that healthcare workers have excess leave that they were unable to make full use of due to the pandemic. Generally speaking, he expressed that this would likely be the same in 2021 as well, and the leave will be forfeited if it is not used after a certain period of time.

The MMA president has requested for the government to make a guarantee that unused leave can be carried forward to be utilised at a time when the outbreak is manageable.

Dr Subramaniam said MMA has also written about such pertaining matters officially to Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Source: The Star