Thursday, September 21, 2017

Health ministry looks for 1000 doctors

The Ministry of Health is direly short on doctors, and a new plan to recruit 1000 more will barely begin to staunch the gap, according to government officials.

A doctor at work in an HIV clinic in Yangon.(Kaung Htet / The Myanmar Times)A doctor at work in an HIV clinic in Yangon.(Kaung Htet / The Myanmar Times)

As part of its 100-day priority agenda, the ministry has put out a call for 1000 more doctors and 700 medical staffers to bolster hospitals around the country, according to Dr Myat Wanna Soe, deputy director of the medical care department.

He added that the target will not cover all the vacancies, however.

“The MoH calls for 1000 new doctors every year, but actually, right now the MoH needs to fill between 2000 and 3000 vacant posts for doctors,” he said. “But we can pay for only 1000 additional doctors. So now the MOH is still facing the problem of a large employee gap.”

Even if the ministry recruited every one of the new graduates from all five of the countries medical universities, there would be only around 1500 newly minted doctors to pull in, according to the ministry’s department of human resources. As it stands, the ministry is looking to take on two-thirds of the graduating class in the public sector.

Previously, graduating medical students typically served the ministry for three years. Until 2010, MoH appointed and paid the medical licensing fees for those who agreed to staff the government hospitals. But that stipulation was ended five years ago.

A ministry official who asked not to be named told The Myanmar Times that no appointments of new recruits have been made so far because the Union Services Service Board had not yet selected new employees.

“The Ministry of Health is going to apply to the USSB with a list of new employees but we cannot say when,” the official said.

The ministry came under fire last year for a perceived militarisaion of public hospitals, with retired military officials transferred to senior health roles. The ministry pledged last August that no more military personnel would be appointed to senior positions.

According to the World Health Organization, Myanmar has just six doctors for every 10,000 people, with a rural and urban disparity exacerbating the shortage outside of city centres.