Penang Health Dept confirms death of houseman

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Health Department has confirmed that a graduate medical officer fell from his residential building on April 17.

Penang Health Department director Dr Ma’arof Sudin confirmed that the deceased was a graduate medical officer who was placed to work at Hospital Penang on April 4.

He said in a statement on Wednesday (May 4) that the case is being investigated by the police and an autopsy was carried out.

"The autopsy was performed at Hospital Penang's Forensic Department. We are still waiting for some laboratory test results to have a complete report of the investigation," he added.

Dr Ma’arof said the final report will be submitted to the police to assist in their investigations.

"As this case is still under investigation by the police and out of respect for the family of the deceased, we (the Penang Health Department) request the cooperation of all parties so as not to speculate and spread false information about this incident.," he said.

"Our department and Hospital Penang will give full cooperation to the police in the investigation," he added.

Dr Ma’arof also extended his condolences to the family and friends of the deceased.

A news portal reported that a houseman attached to Hospital Penang died recently after he apparently fell from an office building along Jalan Datuk Keramat here.

North-East OCPD Asst Comm Soffian Santong confirmed the case, saying that the initial investigation centred on sudden death.

This is believed to be the second death involving a junior doctor in the span of two years.

In December 2020, the same portal reported that another doctor who had resigned from the same hospital had died suddenly.

Meanwhile, Penang health committee chairman Dr Norlela Arrifin said that junior doctors under the Health Ministry have been working "inhumane" conditions for a long time.

She claimed that her family member, who was a houseman once got into 27 car accidents due to fatigue from working long hours.

“The response I get from the Health Ministry, including politicians, is that this is a normal process for all medical officers to go through. It seems to be a culture that should be accepted in the medical profession,” she added.

Norlela compared the experience of her daughter-in-law, who was a doctor at a hospital in the United Kingdom, which she said has a more “humane” work-life balance compared with Malaysia.

Norlela added the Health Ministry’s reasoning that the problem of overwork due to lack of manpower was difficult to accept, given that many medical graduates either fail, or wait a long time to be accepted into the service.

"It does not make sense for the Health Ministry to let this matter drag on when doctors have to make 'life-death decisions' when treating patients in this kind of work situation," she added.

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