Vice President of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), Dr Justice Yankson, has called on government to ensure that it is able to train, attract and retain doctors in the country.
He indicated that government must equally put in place proper incentive packages to attract and retain health workers in deprived communities. Dr Justice Yankson explained that the government has not done enough to ensure that doctors and nurses accept posting to remote communities. Following this, he intimated that without these incentives, “these problems would be compounded”.
“Our constitution injuncts the state to ensure that the people of Ghana have access to medical care. Look, you cannot compel a professional or anybody to work for you as an employer and government as an employer, must know that for a fact. Same situation, you cannot also compel an employer to employ you. Once the state is injuncted to provide the best for us in terms of health care, then there is a duty on the state to ensure that they are able to train and also attract and retain these doctors”.Dr Justice Yankson
His comments followed President Akufo Addo’s address at the 60th anniversary of the University of Ghana Medical School (UGMS). The President bemoaned the refusal of some doctors and dentists to accept posting to deprived areas of the country, a situation he described as “distressing”.
Healthcare delivery in the country
Following this, Dr Yankson noted that the government’s inability to attract and retain doctors contributes to some doctors seeking greener pastures outside the country. He emphasized that the “basic things” in the country don’t work.
“You sign basic contract of employment with the employer and same will not be implemented. You go to the workplace and sometimes the facilities that should exist for you to work with are just not there. Sometimes the opportunities for you to improve yourself by way of career progression don’t even exist. So, we should not isolate doctors and with all due respect, let it look like we are the only ones refusing to go to places”.Dr Justice Yankson
During his address, President Akufo-Addo noted that refusal of doctors and health personnel to accept posting to remote communities is hampering effective healthcare delivery in such areas. He however conceded that the country’s doctor-dentist population ratio currently remains poor, although “our medical schools have got a good reputation and have been training good doctors and dentists who find work with some ease, in all parts of the world”. Nonetheless, he expressed that the doctor-dentist population ratio in the country still remains unsatisfactory after 65 years of nationhood.
The President further intimated that good health is crucial to the nation and it is for that reason, access to quality healthcare is a right that is enshrined in the constitution. This constitutional right, he noted, can best be materialized if health institutions like the University of Ghana Medical School, nursing training schools, and other allied health training institutions produce the required numbers of competent personnel who enjoy the confidence of the population.