#HartalDoktorKontrak expects up to 5,000 doctors to join July 26 strike

The planned #HartalDoktorKontrak protest will be on Monday, barring any opposition. — Picture via Facebook/hartaldoktorkontrak
The planned #HartalDoktorKontrak protest will be on Monday, barring any opposition. — Picture via Facebook/hartaldoktorkontrak

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KUALA LUMPUR, July 24 — Between 4,000 and 5,000 contract doctors are expected to join the #HartalDoktorKontrak (contract doctors strike) on Monday, said movement representative Dr Umar Baraka.

Dr Umar said contract doctors from major hospitals in the country will stage a walkout at 11 am on July 26 as they felt that the government has not addressed the complaints and the call to ensure the future of some 23,000 contract doctors under the Ministry of Health (MOH).

However, Dr Umar said the striking doctors would still ensure patients’ welfare was not harmed during the strike on Monday.

“Those in major hospitals will pass the patient to permanent doctors (before the walkout).

“For our friends at the intensive care units or if their place has not enough staff or the patient is unstable, then we call on them to return to work when they are called by their supervisors,” he said in a press conference today.

Earlier today, the movement said their planned July 26 strike will proceed, after expressing dissatisfaction with the government’s announcement of improved benefits and contract extensions yesterday.

The Cabinet yesterday agreed to appoint medical officers, dental officers and pharmacists by contract for a period of two years once they have completed their compulsory service to ensure continuity of service and preparation for pursuing specialist studies.

The Cabinet also agreed to extend the contractual appointment to a maximum of four years for medical officers and dental officers who are pursuing specialisation studies during the contract period of the first two years.

Earlier, the strike organisers said they would proceed with it as the government’s announcement did not fundamentally resolve their complaints.

“Offering us more years of contract is not a solution, it’s a sugarcoating statement to shut us up. We know well how the system works, we are not buying it. Nobody wise enough will accept it.

“Stop giving us a half-cooked solution given by people who are not even in this field, or don’t even know how the system works, or maybe don’t even bother to think thoroughly about it because the problem is not theirs.

“Give us a clear planning, clear solution for our career. Could we afford to lose more and more people now? HARTAL is definitely going on. 2 DAYS TO HARTAL!” the group said in a statement.

The Cabinet decision yesterday came ahead of a planned hartal, or strike, by contract doctors on July 26 under #HartalDoktorKontrak should their demands — which also include promoting all contract doctors to permanent posts and making the criteria for promotion transparent — be ignored.

Healthcare workers and MMA have also taken part in the Code Black and Black Monday campaigns to show solidarity with the contract doctors’ plight.

Since the pandemic began, contract doctors’ issues have become hotly debated within the medical profession.

It was reported that over 23,000 contract doctors in government service who graduated since December 2016 have not been automatically absorbed permanently like in the past.

The movement first gained considerable traction on Twitter through the hashtag #HartalDoktorKontrak.

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