Dr Dzul: Health Ministry will revise its work practices to support stressed healthcare workers

PETALING JAYA – Recognizing the plight faced by healthcare workers, Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad – pic – said that the Ministry is undertaking serious reforms to the healthcare sector.

The Minister of Health said that a multifaceted strategy has been used to tackle these challenges.

In a Thursday (6 June) statement, he stated: “Rest assured that we will tackle these issues with the utmost severity and pledge to reinforce our strategies whenever and wherever necessary.”

Dzulkefly, who noted the many issues facing healthcare workers, including burnout – which is constantly being highlighted in the media – said that the healthcare staff were invaluable assets and deserved comprehensive support.

The World Health Assembly has revealed that many countries face significant challenges in healthcare.

In a testimony 2023 to the House of Representatives of the Philippines, officials acknowledged that there was a shortage of more than 114,000 doctors and 127,000 nurses.

There is no easy solution to the problem of human resource shortage. We also agree that a culture shift is urgently needed and the health of our healthcare workers should be a top priority.

Dzulkefly stated that this includes promoting a healthier balance between work and life, as well as a fair compensation system.

He added that the Health Ministry was reexamining long-standing practices such as excessively lengthy on-call times.

In order to mitigate the effects of hospital overload, the ministry has taken a number of measures. These include optimizing patient distribution by clustering hospitals; exploring public-private partnership for outsourcing services; mobilizing staff in high-demand areas; and extending hours at clinics.

A survey on “supply-and-demand” conducted in collaboration by the World Bank also identifies workforce gaps.

Our financial resources are constrained. In 2016, we implemented a ‘contract for services’ or ‘contract doctor’ among other measures.

“To address these constraints, we will need to implement critical reforms as well as a financial strategy in order to build a resilient and sustainable healthcare system. Now we are tackling these reforms with seriousness.

We ask our dedicated healthcare professionals to be patient as we embark on this important transformational journey. We appreciate your patience and commitment as we strive to make positive changes.

He added, “Let’s maintain an open dialog as we move forward together.”

According to a recent ad hoc survey conducted by the Malaysian Medical Association, only 5% (or fewer) of healthcare facilities have adequate staffing.

Nearly half of the 117 respondents (48.3%), cite doctors’ resignations (28.8%), or their being transferred (13.6%) as the main reasons for staffing shortages.

Healthcare advocates warn the apparent inability to cope of workers may further exacerbate manpower shortages in the sector.

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