24 April 2013

Ghana: Blood of Premature Dead On Heads of Gov and Doctors


Quite clearly, something must be fundamentally wrong with the sense of responsibility of both President John Dramani Mahama's National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration and the striking medical practitioners employed in government hospitals across the country.

For if they had shown any sense of responsibility for preserving the lives of Ghanaians, which they are both sworn to protect, the on-going strike by government doctors would not have entered its third week, nor escalated to the point where doctors are wilfully rejecting emergency cases, including accident victims in coma.

If it is true that God Almighty has an infallible system in place for holding human beings accountable for their acts of inhumanity to fellow human beings, then the Mahama government and doctors in government hospitals, currently on strike, will account for the blood of innocent Ghanaians that they are gleefully soaking their hands in.

The Chronicle, and indeed, every right-thinking and unbiased Ghanaian, holds them liable for blood guiltiness arising out of the avoidable premature deaths occurring all over Ghana as a result of their inexplicable intransigence.

The documented outcomes of the negotiations, between the government and the striking doctors since the on-going strikes began, indicate that the industrial action should have been called off at the end of the second week.

Now the strike is in its third week, and more patients are likely to die, because, since Monday, April 22, doctors are not attending to emergency cases.

We refer here to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on April 11, 2013 by the doctors and the government, after a meeting between them and the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, the Ministry of Finance and the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, in the presence of the Trades Union Congress, and the second agreement between the doctors and the Public Services Joint Standing Negotiation Committee on April 12.

In the April 11 agreement, the doctors agreed to instalment payments of their 2012 market premium allowance, while the government agreed to discuss the doctor's outstanding grievance over conversion difference at the Public Services Joint Standing Negotiation Committee. But now the doctors say the government has reneged on the conversion difference aspect of the MoU, hence the escalation.

Why should a government that was represented by two ministries and a commission sign an MoU that says, "that the issue of conversion difference and pensions is being dealt with by the Single Spine Post-Migration Technical Committee, and the government and the GMA will ensure commitment to the process," wake up the next day to say that "conversion difference" was no longer on the table, as the doctors claim?

Is the government just happy to be unreasonably capricious when the lives of millions of Ghanaians are at stake? Never in its wildest dream did The Chronicle ever think that the government's labour relations would ever come to such a sorry pass. Nauseating, very, very, to say the least.

Now to the doctors: The Chronicle agrees that you have been sorely provoked by almost everything around you. But you are highly trained cerebral people who have sworn the Hippocratic Oath to save lives. By rejecting emergencies, you are permitting avoidable deaths. Yes, people die when you are on duty, but not everybody dies; when people die when doctors are on duty, it is in spite of their best efforts. In the latter case, they deliberately make no effort at all. That is a crucial difference.

As crucially important as the issue of pensions is, it is not immediately life-threatening. Besides, the conversion difference is not an issue that government's chameleonic attitude to it can sweep it under the carpet, especially, when the doctors have the April 11 MoU.

The Chronicle would appeal to the doctors to, in the interest of their Hippocratic Oath and their patients, call off their strike, and take the issue of the conversion difference to court.

With the April 11 MoU, the courts would uphold their claim. No matter how long it takes, doctors would get their appropriate conversion difference, with bountiful arrears, and enjoy adequate pensions.

After all, the conversion difference is a small percentage of the doctors' total emoluments. It is most unlikely that any of them would starve without it!

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