KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Medical Services Union (SMSU) wants the Ministry of Health to streamline measures and strategies to maintain the mental health of health workers who have been working tirelessly and selflessly round the clock following the COVID-19 pandemic.
SMSU said it appreciated the counseling services provided for the health workers in Sabah, including those from the peninsula, but wanted the government to also look into their welfare.
Its president Ajulahin Japin said the union had received a report that health workers in the state had to work a 12-hours shift since the COVID-19 outbreak, hence the need to properly manage the stress facing them.
“With the shortage of workers, there are more work to be done and this will put pressure on the remaining staff to continue the work. Therefore, there must be a more effective way to balance the shortage of staff and situations causing stress on the workers,” he told Bernama.
He said poor mental health could affect the quality of work of health workers.
Meanwhile, SMSU assistant secretary-general Melvin Ebin Bondi said there are three important components affecting mental health, namely pressure, anxiety and depression, which has to be detected early among the health workers.
“If it is not detected early and managed well, or not taken care of, it can cause a more serious mental problems.
“The problem on ‘burnt out’ also needs to be taken care of among the health workers as they now have to work longer than their normal working hours,” he said.
He thanked the government for appointing more contract psychology officers to provide counseling to affected patients and workers, but said the six-month contract given to them was short as it is feared the COVID-19 pandemic would not end then.
SMSU, he said, had also received complaints about from health workers over their leave application, which had been frozen, and on their allowance payment.
SMSU executive secretary Laurence Vun, in thanking the government, for the RM500 one-off payment for frontliners in Budget 2021, said allowance payment, including overtime, for the heath workers should be paid promptly.
“They are tired, for having to work for 12 hours, but when they look in their bank account and found that they payment had been made, it motivates them to work more,” he added.
“SMSU is trying to get Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah for a video conferencing with our health workers to give them more motivation, but if he (Dr Noor Hisham) can come and meet us, that will be even more better,” he added.