The Malaysian Health Coalition is concerned with the increasing reports of burnout among healthcare providers (HCPs).
This trend is unsurprising because they have fought on the frontline for nearly a year.
We must perform our duty to care for them, as they are caring for us.
We strongly urge the government to do better for our frontline HCPs:
1. Strengthen mental health and psychological support
The pandemic has taken a mental and emotional toll on everyone, especially the HCPs who have dealt with its impact first-hand.
There must be adequate mental health support for all HCPs, both on the frontline and support functions.
This support must be strengthened for the immediate term as well as for the long term.
Mental and emotional recovery from the pandemic will take time, so this infrastructure must be in place to ensure that HCPs get the support they need for years to come.
2. Listen to the pleas of frontline HCPs
There has been an influx of social media posts and reports from HCPs pleading for better working conditions (as reported here and here).
We urge the government to heed their calls for help and establish a safe and healthy working environment for all HCPs on duty.
They must be allocated proper rest, given proper nutrition, and adequate safety and protective equipment.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends this five-step plan to keep both HCPs and patients safe. Policymakers must remember that HCP safety is patient safety.
3. Provide permanent posts and job security
We refer to our previous statements (dated 14 September 2020 and 2 November 2020) and echo the recent call by many professional societies to create more permanent posts as well as extend the contract duration for medical officers (MO) and other professionals.
The current contract system limits their ability to undergo postgraduate training and specialize. Moreover, many frontline professionals will not have adequate job security after the pandemic.
Our frontline HCPs deserve to be recognized for their sacrifices; we must do so by securing their careers and consequently, the future of our health system.
We know that our HCPs will continue to sacrifice until the pandemic is fully eradicated, because of their sense of duty. Our health professionals have performed their duty to care for us, and we must perform our duty to care for them.