KOTA KINABALU: Sabah welcomes assurance of more manpower in the healthcare service but Sabahans should be given precedence in filling the roles.
STAR deputy secretary general Rizal Johari said this is to ensure that employment opportunities in Sabah are prioritised for Sabahans, particularly federal government posts.
“We welcome the plan to send in over a hundred more specialists and more than a thousand nurses here before the end of this year. However, it is in the best interest of the region and the people if these positions are filled up by Sabahans.
“Of course, it would be subject to their qualifications. But if we have, say, qualified Sabahan medical specialists, the priority must be given to them,” he said.
Rizal was commenting on a statement by Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin who assured that Sabah and Sarawak can expect better healthcare facilities, more manpower and improved benefits with the Health Ministry preparing the Health White Paper draft.
Khairy reportedly said that he hoped to see the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Duchess of Kent Hospital Sandakan, and Tawau Hospital each 49 specialists by the end of the year.
He also announced plans to modernise medical facilities in the Bornean States.
Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor had noted that geographical conditions, funding, health facilities, lack of manpower and outdated equipment were among the challenges faced in Sabah’s healthcare system.
He also noted that the doctor-to-population ratio in Sabah was 1:872 compared to a nationwide average of 1:441.
All of this, according to Rizal, indicates to a very promising future for Sabah under the GRS government.
“Anyone may politicise about anything under the sun. But in the end, what matters most to the people is performance and delivery.
“Sabah desperately needs better healthcare service and medical facilities. And we want to ensure that everyone, especially the rural communities, has easy access to them. We should not have to beg for this because health is a universal human right that the government is obligated to fulfil.
“As for healthcare personnel, we can’t stress enough that our people come first. For all we know, Sabahan nurses may be working at government or private hospitals in other states. Some of them might wish to return home to serve their own community,” he said.