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Malaysia: protecting healthcare workers in the private sector

14 March 2017
Malaysia boasts of providing for its population one of the best health care services in the world in terms of quality and accessibility. While it continues to improve on its health care services to the people, the escalating cost of maintaining its quality services is proving to be a financial burden.

Public services are currently provided at a very low cost and under the government’s initiatives through its economic trans-formation programme, accessibility to good healthcare services is further enhanced. Current healthcare facilities are being upgraded and more clinics are being built to ensure no one is deprived access to healthcare services based on inability to pay.

While healthcare workers in government health facilities are well represented by trade unions looking after the welfare of their members, this is not so for healthcare workers in the private sector. Much organized effort must be undertaken to have this category of workers protected by unions. As of now there isn’t a national union in existence to look after the interests of health workers in the private sector.

Private health care facilities have mushroomed in the past several years and this has seen many more workers being recruited from within and outside the country. Not much is known about these workers and there is no known initiative to get them under one umbrella union. This has caused much concern among these healthcare workers.

There must be a real concerted effort by the national labour centre to consider the formation of a union for private healthcare workers as the country’s healthcare sector continues to grow, especially through the promotion of medical tourism. 

Even though Malaysia has a national legislation on minimum pay for workers in the country, there is still a need for unions to play their role effectively for workers to continue to enjoy good working conditions and remuneration in providing quality public healthcare services to the population.

Report by Nor Hayati Abd Rashid President of Malayan Nurses Union (MNU), Malaysia


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