As Malaysian healthcare system buckles, #HartalDoktorKontrak needs to succeed more than ever
11 min read

As Malaysian healthcare system buckles, #HartalDoktorKontrak needs to succeed more than ever

What would it take for #HartalDoktorKontrak to succeed and ensure the welfare of contract medical officers amid a pandemic?
As Malaysian healthcare system buckles, #HartalDoktorKontrak needs to succeed more than ever

Despite a state of Emergency on top of a prolonged lockdown, Malaysia's new Covid-19 cases have shown little evidence of slowing down – at over 9,000 cases daily for the last three days on the back of increased testing.

At the same time, the healthcare system has been stretched worryingly close to its breaking point now with hospitals running out of beds in intensive care unit, oxygen supply running out, morale at all-time low, staff quitting – all the while with the Ministry of Health  (MoH) in denial over the situation.

Enter contract medical officers (MOs). In December 2016, the then Najib administration created the system to absorb a glut of medical graduates that could not find job placements.

As some have their contracts now near the end and with no hope of actually making the jump into permanent positions, while at the same time being denied equal pay and career advancement opportunities as permanent MOs, contract MOs now have had enough.

Facing uncertainties and lack of commitment from MoH over their status, the contract MOs aim to force the government's hand by proposing a hartal – a mass protest akin to a labour strike – should their demands continue to fall on deaf ears by July 26.

The #HartalDoktorKontrak (Malay for "contract doctors hartal") movement was born. And yet, there is a question whether the hartal will actually go on – as the MoH tighten their grip over those expressing dissent, and professional umbrella group Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) distancing itself from the movement.

Why are the contract MOs threatening a hartal? And how can such a move succeed to guarantee a happy ending for them?

BBNU spoke with representative of the movement, its supporters, and political activists over securing their demands.

We take a look at this movement after the jump, for subscribers only. 👇

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