PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has expressed deep concern over the manpower distribution across the nation’s public healthcare facilities.

Their concern stems following a recent ad hoc poll that found only 5% of public healthcare facilities have sufficient workers.

The poll which was conducted online by the MMA’s Section Concerning House Officers Medical Officers and Specialists (SCHOMOS) via Google Forms in early April, receiving 117 responses altogether from various government healthcare facilities in Johor (14), Kedah (13), Kuala Lumpur (7), Negeri Sembilan (9), Pahang (4), Penang (9), Perak (10), Perlis (1), Sabah (20), Sarawak (19), Selangor (9) and Terengganu (2).

In the poll, results show that only six responses indicated that these facilities had “adequate manpower.”

Meanwhile, 36 answers (32%) showed these facilities needing to hike up their manpower by 50% and 51 responses (46%) needed to increase their labour by up to 100%.

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Furthermore, 18 responses (16%) needed over twice the amount of doctors to provide adequate services. Six responses were marked as unsure in how many doctors were actually needed in public healthcare facilities across the country.

“We believe one of the main reasons for this lack of manpower is brain drain. There is a sudden increase of doctors resigning and not accepting permanent posts.

“The quitting of doctors does not come as a surprise and has been brought up repeatedly,” said Senator Dr RA Lingeswaran, adding that a total of 3,046 contract doctors resigned in the last three years according to the Health Ministry.

Not only that, the poll also showed 51 (43.6%) responses indicating some form of failure in the facilities or equipments - as a result, contributing to the amount of challenges faced when providing good quality medical treatments to the people.

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In light of the ad hoc poll’s results, the MMA has brought up several methods to effectively tackle these matters, which include:

- Real time data - The MMA has called for transparency in depicting the numbers of healthcare workers in the system, reinforcing the importance of transparent data readily available for the public. They have also urged the human resource unit of the Ministry of Health to take the matter seriously as proper data can establish the true extent of the shortages.

- Remuneration - This includes drafting out fresh salary terms in alignment with the raising of civil servants’ salaries to be competitive with private practitioners for all healthcare workers.

- Retention - The MMA has broached on the topic of doctors whose contracts are due to end this month and in July however, pointing out the lack of a “concrete answer” as to what happens to these groups of doctors.

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- Repair broken facilities and equipment - The MMA adds that more focus is needed in this topic and to ensure that the urban and rural areas in Malaysia receive equal healthcare resources.

“We urge the government to take these issues seriously before the healthcare system suffers any further.

“The Public Service Department, Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Health need to work closely with all stakeholders to stop the situation from further deteriorating,” a statement by the MMA read.

MMA also called for the establishment of a Public Service Commission to manage the healthcare system separate from the government, mainly the Health Ministry-Public Services Department-Finance Ministry trio, allowing more “flexible decision-making when it comes to staffing and service expansion needs.”