Kulai MP asks Putrajaya what happened to reinforcement plan for healthcare workers battling Covid-19

Medical personnel are seen at a hospital in Kuala Lumpur March 20, 2020. — Bernama pic
Medical personnel are seen at a hospital in Kuala Lumpur March 20, 2020. — Bernama pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 22 — DAP lawmaker Teo Nie Ching today urged the government to detail how it plans to fill 35,000 government posts with priority given to the public health sector.

In a statement today, Teo, who is also the Kulai MP, posed the question after critical issues were raised by the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) on the welfare and the lack of manpower in the public health sector which is already straddled with the monumental task of containing the Covid-19 outbreak.

“Many healthcare workers have spoken to the media regarding physical and mental exhaustion. Working in an environment with a high risk of infection, it is inevitable that healthcare workers may contract the disease, and sometimes have to undergo quarantine. 

“These enforced periods of absence lead to increased workload for their colleagues on duty, and consequently further raising the risk of burnout. It is imperative for the Ministry of Health to communicate effectively with the Public Service Department to ensure adequate manpower at the frontlines. 

“In his Budget 2021 speech, the finance minister promised 35,000 job opportunities in the public sector, with priority to fill up positions such as nurses, medical attendants, social welfare officers and temporary teachers. The government must explain how many of these 35,000 positions have been filled,” she said.  

In a letter dated February 19, MMA president Datuk Dr M. Subramaniam addressed all 219 lawmakers on the plight of public health care employees, stating there was an urgent need to address the lack of manpower in the sector as well as issues of welfare and annual leave.

Dr Subramaniam pointed out the government had promised to promote contract doctors from grade UD41 to UD43 to better reflect their contribution, but this has yet to be implemented.

Teo expressed her disappointment with the administration for supposedly not heeding the plight of government healthcare employees to the extent that MMA had to send a letter addressing the lawmakers directly.

Meanwhile, she also urged the Ministry of Women, Family, and Community Development to establish childcare centres for healthcare workers.

“Our healthcare workers are unable to work from home, and they spend a significant amount of the day at the frontlines. The Ministry of Women, Family, and Community Development should establish childcare centres capable of catering for the children of healthcare workers, keeping in mind their sometimes-erratic working hours,’’ she said.

“Our healthcare workers are our last line of defence against the Covid-19 pandemic and future healthcare crises to come. We should and we must resolve these issues to reverse the silent brain drain from our nation,’’ she added.

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