New MMA president pledges to tackle bullying issue within public healthcare system

PETALING JAYA: The newly elected president of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has vowed to tackle the issue of bullying among healthcare workers in the public healthcare system.

Dr Muruga Raj Rajathurai said such incidents were “disturbing to hear.”

“It really saddens me as a healthcare professional.

“Bullying will not be tolerated any longer as I will work together with the Health Ministry and colleagues to ensure that this cancerous behaviour that has crept into the system is dealt with,” he said at the MMA’s annual banquet on Saturday (Sept 10) night.

Dr Muruga Raj began his 2022-2023 term on Saturday (Sept 10).

The banquet was held following MMA’s three-day event that included its 62nd annual general meeting (AGM), the national MMA Convention and Scientific Congress 2022 in Putrajaya.

Some 500 doctors from all over the country attended the AGM.

Also present at the banquet was Public Services deputy director-general (Operations) Datuk Kamel Mohamad, representing Public Service director-general Datuk Seri Mohd Shafiq Abdullah.

Thanking his predecessor Dr Koh Kar Chai for getting the ball rolling on healthcare reforms during his 2021-2022 term, Dr Muruga Raj said he would continue MMA’s push for changes and reforms in the country’s healthcare system.

Dr Muruga Raj, a private general practitioner with a law degree and a master's in Business Administration said he was looking forward to working closely with the Health Ministry and Public Service Department, as there have been some issues involving human resources in healthcare reforms.

“We are delighted to have a Health Minister who is committed to the much-needed healthcare reforms.

“I hope to engage with the Public Service Department soon on charting the way forward on the issues of manpower in our healthcare system.

“There has been some notable progress on the issue of contract doctors although we still have a long way to go towards a more sustainable solution,” he said.

Calling for the department to double the number of permanent positions for doctors on contract, he expressed hope that the concerns would be adequately addressed through the White Paper, which is expected to be tabled in November.

He also hoped that the process of reforms to the healthcare system would continue even if there was a change in government.

With Budget 2023 to be tabled early next month, Dr Muruga Raj urged the government to increase the country’s healthcare budget.

“As you might know, we have asked for a minimum of 5% of the nation’s GDP for the 2023 healthcare budget.

“For many years we have been managing with a minuscule amount and have yet to deliver a high level of care for the population,” he said, adding that the system was overstretched and some of our facilities were ageing.

He also expressed concern over Malaysia’s readiness for an ageing population, where in about a decade, 15% of our population is expected to be 60 years old or older.

“The demands for healthcare, especially in specialist services are expected to increase significantly. This will require analytical and strategic planning in healthcare human resources and supporting infrastructure to prepare the country well.”

Owing to increasing cases of non-communicable diseases in the country, Dr Muruga Raj also called on Malaysians to take a more proactive approach to take charge of their own health.

With increasing healthcare costs, he said even those with medical coverage might end up relying on government healthcare services.

“The way forward in managing health is to take preventive steps now with a holistic approach consisting of a healthy diet, sufficient rest daily, regular exercise and a scheduled medical check-up.

“These simple steps can prevent diseases, hospitalisation and high medical expenses,” he said.

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