With thousands of Covid-19 cases reported daily in Malaysia, many heroic doctors and nurses are stretched as they work tirelessly to help stem the tide.
While all this is going on, many Malaysian doctors working overseas can only look on and cheer their fellow compatriots from afar.
That said, recently spoke to one Malaysian doctor currently serving in the UK as a general practitioner trainee.
With over five years of service, Dr Fiona (not her real name), shared her personal experience of the Covid-19 situation in the UK and how the country’s approach differs from Malaysia’s.
Right at the top, Fiona pointed out that, in terms of healthcare systems, the UK and Malaysia are relatively similar, though the latter has a slight dependence on private practices.
“In the UK, most GPs (general practitioners) are nationalised, meaning people don’t have to pay to see a GP unlike in Malaysia,” she said, referring to the British National Healthcare System.
As cases have recently dropped in the UK, walk-in vaccinations have been ramped up to inoculate those who have yet to be vaccinated, especially the younger population.
Fiona herself had unfortunately caught the virus in April 2020, and it was quite a frightening experience for her.
“I might have contracted it while working in a hospital. We were ill-prepared back then, as it was during the early stages of the pandemic. I was in bed for the most part of it, trying to stay hydrated,” she said, while pointing out that this happened when the UK faced less serious symptoms.
The headaches and palpitations that came along with the virus were the worst part of the experience but Fiona is thankful that no further damage was done.
As she still has friends and fellow doctors working in Malaysia, Fiona is aware of the problems that doctors are currently facing back home.
“I know my Malaysian colleagues are struggling just like how we were struggling during the second lockdown in the UK,” she said.
“Malaysia handled the beginning of the pandemic well with many people taking precautions against getting infected during the first few waves, so it’s a shame to see what has happened.”
While the UK is faced with handling the Delta variant at present, Fiona notes that British healthcare authorities are better-prepared to face the challenges head on.
With regards to the issues recently raised by Malaysian contract doctors, Fiona opined that there are some similarities between how healthcare workers are treated in both countries.
“I think healthcare workers in general are underpaid and overworked,” she said. “Some of my Malaysian colleagues are working without any rest or days off.”
She said that given doctors provide a life-long service to the country and the public, it is only fair that they receive proper compensation and benefits for their work.
“It’s not just doctors but all healthcare staff. They shouldn’t be made to resent their work because they are not being compensated enough for their service.”
She explained that under such difficult circumstances, where healthcare workers risk their lives daily, it is easy to feel exhausted and discouraged.
“It’s difficult to work with passion when you’re not looked after by your employer, that’s when fatigue sets in.”
To her fellow Malaysian frontliners, she had this to say: “Given the difficult position you are in, you are all doing a fantastic job, especially during a pandemic where lots of things are out of our control.”
“Remember, we are doing this to serve others as we were called to this profession to save lives. Take heart. This pandemic will eventually end.” - FMT