‘Give pharmacists more positions’

PETALING JAYA: Hartal Ahli Farmasi Kontrak is asking for contract pharmacists to be allocated at least 1,000 permanent positions instead of just 316.

Its request comes in the wake of Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa’s announcement that contract pharmacists and dentists from the 2016 and 2017 batches can apply for a permanent position with the Health Ministry through the Public Services Commission Job Registration System from Jan 30 to Feb 12.

“Although YB (Dr Zaliha) has given us the opportunity to apply for permanent positions, there were only 316 vacancies compared with 4,263 for doctors,” a source told The Star on condition of anonymity.

He said while the group was not against doctors, it wanted a fair chance to be given to pharmacists as well.

He added that the patient load would increase as the number of doctors increases and there might be a longer wait time in dispensing medicines as pharmacies were understaffed.

This, he said, would lead to patients blaming pharmacists.

“We are appealing for the number of permanent positions for pharmacists to be increased to 1,000 or more, or at least a quarter of the 4,200 vacancies for doctors,” said the source.

“There are not many of us and we can be absorbed automatically without having to undergo interviews, which are a waste of time and the government’s money – we have worked for seven years, do we still have to be interviewed?”

The movement for contract pharmacists is also urging the government to abolish the contract system that was introduced in 2016, given the increasing number of patients.

The source said based on data collated by the movement, there were fewer than 100 pharmacists left from the 2016 and 2017 batches as opposed to the 321 touted by the ministry.

He said most have quit the civil service.

Dr Zaliha had said applications for the 2016 and 2017 batches would be rolled out after the hiring process for dentists and pharmacists from the 2018, 2019 and 2020 batches – which opened on Jan 6 – was completed on Jan 21.

“A total of 242 dentists and 321 pharmacists on contract from the 2016 and 2017 batches are eligible for permanent positions,” she said in a statement yesterday.

Earlier, The Star reported that Hartal Ahli Farmasi Kontrak had threatened to stage a walkout if their absorption into the civil service was not given enough importance.

The movement was formed on Jan 21, after pharmacists from the 2016/2017 batch said they did not get clear-cut answers from the ministry and the Public Services Commission on why those from the batch were not invited for the next interview session despite being the oldest batch on contract.

Starting with 100 members, the group has gained traction on social media.

The movement comes after the Hartal Doktor Kontrak was formed in 2021.

Hartal Doktor Kontrak staged a nationwide walkout in July 2021 to protest the contract system.

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