Job postings will be released in February, while the first batch of appointments will start in June
by FAYYADH JAAFAR
THE Cabinet has agreed that a total of 4,186 additional permanent posts will be created in the Health Ministry (MoH) by June this year, says Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar.
This will involve a total of 3,586 medical officers, 300 dental officers and 300 pharmacy officers.
He added that job postings will be released in February, while the first batch of appointments will start in June.
“We plan to increase the minimum number if the government’s budget allows us to do so. But I have already discussed with my colleagues the importance of creating more permanent positions in the future,” he said in a press conference yesterday.
“The Cabinet also decided that at least 1,500 permanent positions for medical officers, dental officers and pharmacy officers will be created at the MoH each year beginning 2023 until 2025,” he added.
On Jan 19, the MoH presented a memorandum to the Cabinet outlining the need for additional permanent staff and the direction of implementing initiatives to address issues related to medical, dental and contract pharmacy officers.
Khairy Jamaluddin said the Cabinet has agreed with the roadmap being developed by the MoH together with the relevant agencies and ministries to find short, medium and long-term solutions to the crisis regarding the contract appointees.
The approval was an important step towards addressing the shortage of doctors and other professionals in the public sector.
“The prime minister is highly supportive of MoH’s efforts to solve the problems facing the health sector,” he said further.
The roadmap, which will be launched soon, aims to establish a technical committee for the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Dental Surgery to optimise the capacity of programme offerings and control the quality of graduates, evaluate and update the list of the Second Schedule of the Medical Act 1971, implement the Professional Qualification Examination to address issues of quality and competence of graduates, and strengthen the National Expertise Studies Programme.
Khairy Jamaluddin also explained that the ministry will continue to recruit medical officers through the usual channels.
Since December 2015, the government has implemented the Human Resource Optimisation Policy in the Public Service and the Public Service Size Control Policy in an effort to ensure that public spending is done prudently and optimally.
However, with the implementation of this policy, new posts are no longer approved unless made in exchange (trade-off), whereby medical practitioners have to wait a long time for their vacancies to be filled before they can be appointed permanently.
As a result, the number of medical officers, dental officers and pharmacy officers who have been appointed permanently has decreased significantly over the last three years.
For the record, during the period from 2016 to 2021, only a total of 1,118 medical officers, 1,019 dental officers and 1,288 pharmacy officers were appointed permanently.
Subsequently, on July 14, 2021, the Cabinet agreed that medical officers who have completed their period of service must be re-contracted for two years for continuity of service and preparation for specialist studies.
Medical and dental officers who are approved for specialist studies within two years will have their contracts extended for another four years to complete specialist studies.
“The extension of this contract still does not resolve the main issue of the limited number of permanent posts and is insufficient compared to the actual needs of medical, dental and pharmacy officers to ensure the sustainability of health service delivery in the MoH.
“The extension of the contracts of medical, dental and pharmacy officers is only an immediate solution,” Khairy Jamaluddin added.