Sarawak contract healthcare workers must be offered permanent positions, says MP

Dr Kelvin Yii – Picture from the New Sarawak Tribune

By John Isaac

DR KELVIN Yii welcomed the Health Ministry’s (MoH) efforts in prioritising Sarawakian medical and dental officers to be given permanent positions in their home state – but said the ministry must take a step further to ensure other Sarawakian healthcare workers still on contract are offered permanent positions as soon as possible.

The Bandar Kuching MP noted that there were still Sarawakians working in the state who were on contract, and also many of them working in other states who wanted to come back to work.

“So all these issues also have to be resolved. This is an issue I have been pushing for since the beginning, especially to address the urgent need of doctors here in the state – especially in the rural areas,” he said when contacted by New Sarawak Tribune.

He said young Sarawakian medical officers may understand the culture, traditions and even the local language better and may adapt better to the different environment, especially in the rural areas.

“Over the years, many doctors from Peninsular Malaysia have come over and served the state to the best of their capacity and helped fill up the need for doctors here.

“In most cases, the arrangements were not permanent and they were eventually transferred back to their respective home states after their compulsory service or due to different valid reasons,” said Dr Yii.

He emphasised that this was why it was important that locals were appointed to address the long-term need for doctors in Sarawak.

He said he had been urging the ministry to prioritise Sarawakians when offering positions or postings to Sarawak as they were the ones that were likely to stay in the state and serve long-term.

“This will address the issue of lack of doctors on a long-term basis and reduce the turnover of doctors due to transfers which may also be an inconvenience to these doctors themselves, especially those with families,” he said.

On Monday (Dec 21), the Dewan Negara was told that MoH had given priority to medical and dental officers from Sarawak, Sabah, and Labuan to be given permanent appointments to serve in their respective home states.

Health Minister Dr Adham Baba said 174 Sarawak-born contract medical officers were eligible to be considered for permanent appointments for the 2016 and 2017 cohorts.

He said that of the total, 108 Sarawak-born medical officers and 50 Sarawak-born dental officers had attained permanent appointments.