More healthcare personnel needed, report finds

Safety first: Healthcare workers overseeing a screening test in Kampung Baru in 2020. — AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star

PETALING JAYA: The ratio of doctors to the population in 2021 was one to 420, revealed the Health Ministry’s Health Facts 2022 report.

In terms of headcount, there were a total of 77,755 doctors in 2021, including 9,578 House Officers.

The Human Resources segment of the report showed that the profession to population ratio for dentists was 1: 2,597 while pharmacists were 1: 1,758.

As for nurses, there was one nurse available for a population of 283.

Meanwhile, there was one optometrist to serve a population of 13,860 while for opticians, there was one for a population of 13,109.

The ministry’s 2022 Annual Report said as at Dec 31, 2021, 93.1% or 256,147 of the 274,987 positions available in the Health Ministry were filled.

“There were 32,713 permanent Medical Officers in 2021, comprising 6,258 Medical Specialists; 26,392 Medical Officers (MOs) and 63 permanent House Officers (HOs) Grade UD41 (HOs remained in housemanship training and were appointed before December 2016),” the report said.

Meanwhile, a total of 39,389 Contract Officers were appointed, which consist of various schemes including Medical Officer, Dentist, Pharmacist, Dental Technologist, Physiotherapist and Occupational Therapist.

Some 14,000 healthcare personnel were appointed to various services schemes on contract basis to assist with the management of the Covid-19 pandemic.

These personnel included nurses, medical assistants and radiographers.

“In order to fulfill the service requirements and management of the Covid-19 pandemic throughout Malaysia, MOH has mobilised existing personnel and contract appointments to assist shortage of human resource in affected states due to sudden surge of Covid-19 cases,” it said.

In total, 3,787 personnel had been mobilised across states throughout the year.

The mobilisation initiative also involved personnel from other agencies and ministries at federal and state levels,” it added.

Several medical groups such as Hartal Doktor Kontrak and healthcare workers have highlighted the issue of the manpower crunch in the healthcare sector, particularly at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic when hospitals were bursting at its seams and resources were overstretched.

Healthcare groups have also called for the absorption of contract healthcare workers into permanent services.

Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa had said on Jan 6 that a total of 4,914 permanent positions would be available in the Health Ministry in 2023.

She said that 4,263 positions would be for medical officers, 335 openings for dentists and 316 for pharmacists.

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