14 February 2013

Ghana: The Health of the People Is Paramount


Once more, the life of the overworked, under-paid and underfed Ghanaian has become the bargaining chip in a matter that should not be part of the equation in these difficult moments in the life of the Ghanaian.

Throughout the country, doctors are voting with their feet, following the failure of officialdom to honour various commitments bordering on the welfare of our physicians. With the 'dumso dumso' nature of electricity and water supplies in tots, the withdrawal of the services by medical officers in the public system puts the life of the people at great risk.

What this means is that any Ghanaian falling ill, would be denied treatment from public hospitals and other medical installations. Doctors have battled the Labour Commission and the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission for close to two years over the simple matter of ensuring that their sacrifices of long hours and intricate medical care were adequately rewarded.

Evidence on the ground does not support the notion that officialdom has ever budged over the concerns of our medical officers. What is irking our medical professionals, whose training at the tertiary level is seven years at the minimum.

Suffice it to state that the Mills/Mahama administration found it expedient to offer massive pay rise to party officials who sat at the Castle and offered no tangible services to the state.

In the name of special aides to the President, Nii Lante Vanderpuiye, Stanislav Xoese Dogbe, Koku Anyidoho and co were given a massive salary increase in June last year. The so-called Social Democratic administration of the National Democratic Congress gave these aides a whopping GH¢6,300 per aide per month. We are told that acidic-mouthed Dr. Tony Aidoo even got GH¢7,119 a month.

With the cash for the boys at already settled, the Executive decided that GH¢7,200 for each of the then 230 Members of Parliament was a fair bargain. In a classic case of 'I scratch your back and you scratch mine,' Parliament handed the President of Ghana GH¢12,000 of scarce state resources per month (¢120 million in the old currency).

Vice-President Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, the former Bank of Ghana Governor, who was found wanting in a debate with the two women who had very little insights into the workings of the state economy, during the Vice-Presidential debate in Takoradi in the run-up to the December 7 election, was rewarded for his role in supporting the President of Ghana with a massive GH¢10,500 a month.

Meanwhile, our doctors kept reminding authorities about anomalies in their incomes and allowances. Last year, the Ghana Medical Association had several rounds of negotiations with the Labour Commission and the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission. Indications are that all those meetings ended in vain.

On Monday, heath facilities operated by the state across the country refused to service Outpatient Departments in all state health facilities. New cases were also not entertained. We must all brace ourselves for pre-mature deaths of many Ghanaians.

And all this because the state of Ghana is led by an administration that seems to care more about doling state resources to cronies than the welfare of the ordinary man on the street.

The Chronicle wonders what kind of a social-democratic administration it is that doles out state money in huge quantum to cronies and denies the Ghanaian basic medical care.

The doctors' strike does the image of Ghana no good. We cannot afford to send Ghanaians to their pre-mature deaths while we continue to dole out state cash to party cronies. Whatever the problem is, authorities must hammer it out with our doctors.

We would like to believe that our doctors are also mindful of their Hippocratic Oath and resolve their differences with state authorities. We owe it to the average Ghanaian to ensure that the health of the nation is guaranteed!

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