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Opinions of Monday, 11 May 2020

Columnist: Akugri Gadafi

An open letter to the COVID 19 select committee and the adviser to the president on Health

I bring you greetings from the golden city Obuasi, even though the COVID 19 pandemic have made us very busy as health professionals and the anxiety alone has further raised our blood pressures, especially those in regions that have recorded cases of COVID 19.

I just got home from my night duty feeling very sleepy with my nose blocked, making it very difficult for me to breath but one thing am currently happy about is the fact that today is the last day of my night duty and I shall stay home for three days and I pray to recover from this common cool within this period of rest.

As staff who have been exposed to COVID 19 cases at our various health facilities, most staff samples have been automatically taken to the Noguchi memorial institute to be tested and we continue to pray that all the results come out negative.

Mr adviser to the president on health and COVID 19 select committee on health ,I find it very urgent to bring these interesting developments to your attention,first as a Ghanaian, second as a health professional and thirdly as a former student leader, a loyal boy of the current government and the fact that our president has asked all Ghanaians to be citizens and not spectators.

Let me first of all commend the president of the republic of Ghana for the steps taken so far to contain the spread of our common enemy, the corona viruse and the incentive packages given to our front liners. That not withstanding, it will interest you to know that the 50% basic salary allowance for front line health workers have caused more harm than good, it has brought the moral of health professionals down after we saw a letter circulating and directing hospital administrators to present 40 staff, health centers to present 15 staff as beneficiaries of the said 50 % basic salary allowance, which included staff at OPD, Laboratory staff, staff at the triaging unit, prescribers at post, Security men at main gate, Revenue collectors who come into contact with patients, while neglecting nurses at the ward who come into contact with patients during monitoring of vital signs and serving of medications every four, six, eight, twelve and 24 hours respectively .

The letter made it very difficult for hospital managers to select these 40 individuals , especially Matrons, because in some hospitals OPD alone have over hundred staff and has ended up breaking the good relationship between some nurses and hospital nurse managers .

Please permit me to ask the following questions.

My first question to our stakeholders is that, should in case those who have been selected come into contact with COVID 19 patients and are automatically quarantined, will hospital managers replace them with different staff or not ? This i can assure you most staff have already threatened to reject any attempt to force them into such a situation.

My second question is, did the president of the republic need the labour unions within the health sector to define who a frontliner is to him or it was a deliberate attempt to deny some health workers the 50% basic salary and then turn around to blame our union leaders?

My last question to the COVID 19 select committee is that, what happens to the insurance package, is it for the same selected 40 individuals or is for any health worker that may be infected with the viruse or even die during his/her course of duty.

Mr adviser to the president on health DR Anthony Nsiah Asare, I personally admire you from afar , especially during your days as director general for Ghana Health services, due to the policies you brought on board, more importantly the use of the online portal for equitable distribution of health staff across all the 16 regions of Ghana, I say Ayekoo. But on the issue of this 50% salary allowance, I must say you have misled the president and the ministry of health into taking this wrongful decision and i must be quick to add that, this has caused more harm than good.

It is already 10:00pmGMT and am currently feeling very sleepy as a result of accumulated stress from my duty and i will like to end here by quoting one famous quote from Lydia Maria Francis Child, who is an American abolitionist, women's rights activist, Native American rights activist, novelist, journalist, and opponent of American expansionism. Her journals, both fiction and domestic manuals, reached wide audience,who once said "Law is not law, if it violates the principles of eternal Justice"

LYDIA MARIA CHILD, speech, 1861

My plea to the president of the republic of Ghana and all stakeholders who matter on this subject matter is that, the policy should be reviewed to include all health workers to benefit from the 50% basic salary allowance to avoid mixed feelings and abnormal reactions among health workers.

Hoping to hear from you soon.

#thisonetooshallpass, stayhomespreadcalmnotfear.

Thank you.

By Akugri Gadafi Avokbil.

A concern nurse and a youth activist.

akugrigadafi7@gmail.com

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