The Ghana Physician Assistants Association (GPAA) has called on government to institute an independent regulatory body through the amendment of the Health Professions Regulations Bodies Act, 2013 (ACT 857).
According to the association, this must be done with the involvement of all relevant stakeholders to ensure this is achieved. As a consequent, it directed its members to suspend renewing their licenses with the Medical and Dental Council (MDC) for the year 2023.
GPAA indicated that its members must not renew their licenses until the Health Ministry establishes a sole regulatory body for the association. It explained that since it joined its current regulator, the MDC, in 2010, the Physician Assistants have not witnessed progress in their careers.
Contained in a statement signed by the President of the Association, Peter Akudugu Ayamba, and the General Secretary, Peter Eyram Kuenyefu, it revealed that the reason for the move was because the MDC did not recognize the contribution of Physician Assistants to the medical profession and was therefore contesting the GPAA in court.
“The way forward is that the government of Ghana and ministry of health should as a matter of urgency, get us our own regulatory body through the amendment of the Health Professions Regulations Bodies Act, 2013 (ACT 857) with the involvement of all key stakeholders.”GPAA
The association noted that in MDC’s quest to suppress physician assistants, the leadership of the MDC “clandestinely” came with a Zero Draft Scope of Practice documents only for physician assistants and certified registered anesthetics without the knowledge and contribution of key actors.
It further expressed its dissatisfaction at the “unfairness” and the manner with which the Medical and Dental Council exercises its regulatory authority over physician assistants.
“All physician assistants should not renew their licenses for the year 2023 until the ministry of health comes with modalities of getting our own regulatory body through the amendment of the Health Professions Regulations Bodies Act, 2013 (ACT 857) with the involvement of all key stakeholders.”GPAA
Citing its major reasons for the directive, GPAA noted that the MDC through the Registrar is fighting the association in court and describing it as “non-medical practitioners”, which is contrary to the provisions in the Health Professions Regulations Bodies Act, 2013 (ACT 857).
GPAA laments Medical and Dental Council’s claims
Additionally, it indicated that the ministry of health in 2020, directed the MDC to temporarily regulate the practice of the Physician Assistant cadre and this regulation was subsequently backed by law with the enactment of the Health Professions Regulations Bodies Act, 2013 (ACT 857).
The GPAA revealed that although it had applied to its regulator, the MDC, to help with career progression, it stated that that was the sole responsibility of the Ministry Of Health but the Registrar of MDC is on tape claiming to have lobbied for funding and sponsorship for career progression for another cadre of professionals it regulates. This act was described by the association as “double standard”.
Again, the GPAA believes the MDC is trying hard to alter the curriculum for the training of Physician Assistants by removing certain important medical course contents which hitherto were offered in order to render the future its members unfit to practice medicine and dentistry.
The GPAA noted that several attempts by the Association to secure a hearing with the ministry of health have proved futile for which it was necessary to ask its members to suspend the renewal of licenses with the MDC. Owing to this, it stated that the leadership will continue to fight any “suppression and oppression” that seems to undermine the training and practice of physician assistants.
GPAA further emphasized that it should not be blamed for any disruption in healthcare service delivery as a result of the non-renewal of its license with MDC for 2023 which puts members in a position not to practice as they enter into the year 2023. The blame, it explained, should be put at the doorsteps of the employer (MoH) and regulator (MDC).