KUCHING: The shortage of doctors in Sarawak can be overcome if the state government allows doctors from the peninsula to work freely in the state.
Malaysian Medical Association president Datuk Dr Khoo Kah Lin suggested Sarawak grant permanent resident (PR) status to peninsula doctors after they had served the state for a fixed period.
Speaking at the association’s annual banquet on Friday night, Dr Khoo urged the Health Ministry to lobby the state government on this matter.
Later, in response, Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said he had conveyed the association’s request at a meeting with Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam on Friday.
Liow hoped the matter could be sorted out given the close cooperation between the state and federal governments.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud had asked the Health Ministry on Thursday to quickly resolve the acute shortage of medical officers and specialists in hospitals in the state.
Taib said out of the 1,334 510 or 38.2% had been filled while out of the 175 specialists posts in Sarawak medical officers’ posts, only General Hospital here, Sibu, Miri and Bintulu Hospitals, 135 or 77.5% had been filled.
The Chief Minister said specialist posts should also be created for other larger provincial hospitals like in Sri Aman, Sarikei and Kapit.
Dr Khoo said better incentives should be given to doctors working in remote areas in Sarawak and Sabah to retain them there.
“The government has provided hardship allowances to teachers serving in the rural areas. The same incentives should be extended to the doctors,” he added.
Dr Khoo said the government should hasten the process of posting new doctors, and follow what the Singapore government had done.
“Singapore has taken in our doctors to work as the process time for job application for new doctors is short and that their applications and processing are done on-line,” he added.
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