KUALA LUMPUR, April 3 — Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa said that government hospitals are on alert for the three-day strike involving around 8,000 doctors which begins today.

She told New Straits Times that officials from her ministry will be monitoring the strike to see if it would proceed as planned.

“As part of our contingency plan, state health directors and hospital directors have been asked to be on alert,” she was quoted as saying.

She reportedly added that hospital and clinic operations will not be affected if the strike takes place.

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“We will ensure no disruptions to the operations of the ministry’s health facilities, with health services provided to the people,” she was quoted as saying.

She reportedly said that she understands the issues faced by doctors but added that striking was not the solution.

Her ministry had issued reminders against participating in the strike through a circular by the Public Service Department director-general, she reportedly added.

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Those who take part in the strike will be subjected to the civil servants’ integrity and public service etiquette, she reportedly said.

Besides that, she reportedly said that she needed time to solve the issue but her commitment should not be doubted.

“I am a medical doctor and I am trying my best to solve it. Am I not being serious in solving it if I bring this up to the Cabinet level?

“I don’t have a magic wand to solve things in seconds. No one does,” she was quoted as saying.

Further, she reportedly said that the committee that will be set up to deal with the contract doctors’ issue would be made up of key ministries and government agencies.

She reportedly added that she would discuss the setup of the committee with the Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali.

“They (committee members) will include the Health Ministry, Public Service Department, Finance Ministry and Higher Education Ministry.

“Perhaps the economy minister needs to be roped in as well,” she was quoted as saying.

She reportedly added that the issue was not a new one and that it was inherited from the previous government.

The group of doctors threatening mass resignation and a nationwide strike beginning today is reportedly associated with an online account named “Mogok Doktor Malaysia” (Malaysian Doctors Strike) that has emerged on social media.

Last Wednesday, the organisers told The Star they have asked doctors to take emergency or medical leave on April 3-5 as a sign of protest, adding that they do not encourage demonstrations or flashmobs, while warning of potential mass resignations on April 1.

“We have confirmed that an estimated 8,000 out of some 20,000 contract medical officers will participate in this strike or mass resignation event.

“(Some) 3,000 contract MOs will resign on April 1, while the rest will not be present to work from April 3-5,” a representative who declined to be named was quoted as saying.

The group demanded the Ministry of Health to absorb all contract MOs into permanent positions without any conditions or interviews; provide basic salary increments, higher on-call rates; come up with a resolution to the shortage of specialists, MOs, and house officers; and prepare an automatic reduction in the compulsory service term for medical officers to three years.

Among others, it also called for a reduction in on-call and work hours for MOs and house officers, while on-call hours should not exceed six times a month, and working hours need to be capped at 60 hours a week.