Organisers warn of long waits for treatment during contract doctors’ strike of April 3 to 5
KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 — The organisers of the Mogok Doktor Malaysia (Malaysian Doctors on Strike) campaign have advised the public not to visit public hospitals and health clinics for routine treatments from April 3 to 5 because they may be in for a long wait.
This, the organiser said, is because more than 8,000 contract doctors are expected to take medical or emergency leave en masse in a sign of protest, Utusan Malaysia reported today.
“This is a protest against the unfair system and low wages so the treatment waiting time is expected to take longer than usual,” the organiser was quoted as saying via their Instagram account @mogokdoktormalaysia.
The report said that the protest could paralyse the country’s health system, which is used by approximately 80 per cent of the country’s 33.4 million population, especially the B40 group, which totals 8.7 million people.
The dissatisfaction among medical workers, especially contract doctors, hit a new high when a letter went viral showing that the Public Service Department (JPA) had refused to consider the payment rate for the ‘on call’ system of 50 per cent.
Previously, JPA had asked the Ministry of Health to re-examine the need for and importance of continuing the on-call duty system.
Meanwhile, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that the strike by the contact doctors is not the best solution and could affect the national health service.
Dr Noor Hisham said the matter must be weighed carefully because health services are a critical service as it involves human lives and the well-being of the people.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr Muruga Raj Rajathurai said the association does not support the strike as a way to get the government to address the issue faced by contract doctors.
However, Dr Muruga said he understood why such a path was taken because governments, both past and present, have not been able to address the issue.
“Contract doctors feel they are going nowhere, and it is difficult to carry out their duties with this feeling of uncertainty. MMA has also fought hard to resolve their issues and we agree that there has been no satisfactory progress in the issue of permanent positions that has dragged on for years.
“There are not enough permanent positions and contract doctors work overtime and wages are still low. However, these doctors are expected to carry out their duties as it is said to be a service to the country,” he was quoted as saying.