Deputy Health Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin when replying to a supplementary question from Chong Chieng Jen (DAP-Bandar Kuching), told the Dewan Rakyat (parliament) on 7th July 2010 that the doctor-patient ratio of was one doctor to 2484 residents in Sabah and one doctor to 2354 in Sarawak. This is compared to one doctor to 328 residents inPutrajaya and in Kuala Lumpur it was one doctor to 488 residents.
The huge discrepancy in this doctor-patient ratio between Malaya and Sabah/Sarawak is totally ridiculous and unacceptable after 47 years of the formation of Malaysia. It brings to the fore and begs the question are we in Sabah/Sarawak Second class citizens? Already saddled with being the two poorest states in Malaysia we now also hold first and second positions with the the worse health cares given.
This is a sad state of affairs as lives are lost daily due to the lack of doctors and specialists in East Malaysia. How many more of our loved ones are going to die before we will say enough.
This is coupled with a lack of basic health facilities like over 600 days of Kota Kinabalu being without a general hospital with no end in the near future. Kota Kinabalu does not only need a new general hospital but also a University hospital for the medicine faculty of the University Malaysia Sabah (UMS).
Our people admitted to Kota Kinabalu’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital and other district hospitals are told to sleep on the floor. Have we reached such a dire state of affairs that our hospitals cannot even provide us with a mattress or adequate medicines, while we see wastage on a large scale like for the opening ceremony of a certain imposing building in Kota Kinabalu.
Datuk Rosnah says that the cause of this severe shortage of doctors is due to a lack of interest and the heavy workload in the rural areas, but we say it is more a lack of incentive given to doctors to work in Sabah/Sarawak especially in the rural areas.
In the past, If the Ministry of Health was really serious about tackling the chronic problem of shortage of doctors then by offering incentives either in the form of adequate monetary allowances or priority in advancement to specialist courses to local Malaysian doctors would have gone a long way to reduce the doctor-patient ratio in East Malaysia. The hiring of contract doctors from overseas although not in all but in most cases were more problematic than giving incentives to our Malaysian doctors.
The churning out of Medical graduates as a solution to the doctor shortage problem in the future is a merely “bums on seats” solution and numbers does not equate to quality of the medical graduate. This is seen by the increase of housemanship from one to two years. If the new doctors were well trained in their medical colleges than one year is enough to acclimatise to working life and to be able to send them to function in the district hospitals where they are truly needed, not clogging up the general hospitals.
We say enough of being treated as second class citizens for 47 years, and no more deaths and morbidity due to a lack of doctors or specialists. Please Datuk Liow and Datuk Rosnah, keep your promises by giving us doctors and hospitals and enough of empty words by the Ministry of Health while our loved ones are dying.
Whatever happened to the much talked about 1Malaysia, or is this not the case when applied to the medical needs of the people of Sabah/Sarawak?
We in Sabah DAP will not seat quiet on this very important issue of the ridiculous long standing severe doctors shortage and lack of hospitals, mattresses and medicines as healthcare is supposed to be a basic necessity which has been neglected too long already in Sabah/Sarawak.
- Dr Felix Chong Kat Fah,
Sabah DAP Medical and Health Advisory Bureau Chairman.