PETALING JAYA: The Cabinet has decided to create 8,686 permanent positions for medical, dental and pharmacy officers under the Health Ministry from June this year until 2025.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said 4,186 permanent positions would be created this year alone, which will involve 3,586 medical officers, 300 dental officers and 300 pharmacy officers.

“Appointments for these additional permanent positions will be made beginning June this year,” Khairy told a press conference yesterday.

He also said that advertisements for these posts would be made public beginning next month.

Prior to this, only 789 of the 23,077 contract doctors had been given permanent positions in Health Ministry facilities between 2016 and 2021, an average of about 160 a year.

It was previously reported that 514 contract medical officers resigned from January to November last year as they were unhappy with the lack of opportunities.

On July 26 last year, contract doctors took part in a strike organised by Hartal Doktor Kontrak (HDK) across public hospitals, demanding better conditions.

A second strike by HDK involving 5,000 contract doctors was supposed to have taken place in December last year, but was called off after Khairy said their plight would be brought to the Cabinet.

“There will be a screening process and it will be a transparent one… because if we don’t give them the security of tenure, they will leave the service,” Khairy said yesterday.

For the period between 2023 and 2025, he said the government would create at least 1,500 permanent positions annually for medical officers, dental officers and pharmacy officers under the Health Ministry.

Meanwhile, he said the Cabinet also agreed to create 800 permanent positions for medical specialists and 70 dental specialists under the health ministry each year beginning 2023 in order to accommodate increasing permanent specialists at facilities under the Health Ministry.

“With this new decision, at least 8,686 additional permanent positions involving medical officers, dental officers and pharmacy officers will be created during 2022 till 2025,” he said.

He added that there would be an additional 800 permanent appointments for medical officers and 70 for dental officers every year in order to fill up vacancies left by previous officers who were appointed as medical specialists.

At the same time, Khairy said a roadmap was currently being jointly developed by the Health Ministry together with related agencies and ministries in order to find various solutions to address the issues concerning medical contract officers.

According to him, the contents of the roadmap include the setting up of a Bachelor of Medicine Technical Committee and Bachelor of Dental Surgery, the implementation of the Professional Qualification Examination to address quality issues concerning graduate competencies, and among others.

“Further details about this roadmap are currently being fine-tuned and finalised,” he added.

Khairy said he was still pushing for contract doctors to be given equal leave and allowances as permanent officers and he was also hoping for the government to increase the number of annual appointments from the newly announced 1,500 a year.

“The Cabinet and the Prime Minister care a lot about public healthcare,” he said.

Meanwhile, Khairy said that from 2016 till the end of 2021, there were 1,118 medical officers, 1,019 dental officers and 1,288 pharmacy officers who were hired as permanent officers.