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General News of Sunday, 28 January 2007

Source: GNA

Internal brain drain threatens health sector - Nurse

Tamale, Jan. 28, GNA - Mr. William Abitto, Acting President of the Nurse Practitioners Group of the Ghana Registered Nurses' Association, has called on the government to pay more attention to the internal brain drain in health delivery to sustain the sector.

He observed that the government's attention to stem the external brain drain to the neglect of addressing the internal brain drain among health professionals in the country was likely to collapse the sector.

He said: "For instance, health professionals trained with the taxpayers' money to man the health institutions are now drifting to the NGOs because of the bureaucratic tendencies in the placement of such professionals on the right job description and salaries categories".

Mr. Abitto made the call at a general meeting of the Nurse Practitioners in Tamale on Friday to raise concerns about the undue delay in grade definition, job description, and placement and salary scale, as well as career progression for its members.

The University for Development Studies (UDS) School of Medicine and Health Sciences in September 2001 introduced a two-year Diploma in Nurse Practitioners Programme in partnership with the Okanagan University College, Canada.

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) funded the programme.

Mr. Abitto said since the inception of the programme, 57 diplomates had passed out, while 29 students were currently pursuing the Nurse Practitioners programme at the UDS.

The programme, he said, was to equip nurses with additional advanced academic education and clinical experience to develop competencies. These would enable them to assess, diagnose, order and interpret diagnostic tests, initiate treatment including health care management, therapeutic interventions and prescribe medications in accordance with the statutory and regulatory standards.

The Acting President said it was rather unfortunate that the placement of graduates of the programme was yet to be streamlined. He said: "Unlike the Nurse Practitioners programme, nurses on programmes at the University of Ghana, Legon and the University of Cape Coast, are granted promotions after completion of their academic programmes".

He said even though the Human Resource Policies and Strategies for the Health Sector document states among others provisions that: "Any nurse who pursues a course of study or academic programme for more than a year is entitled to the award of two incremental credits, as well as salary adjustment and promotion upon successful completion of such course".

Mr. Abitto said, while Nurse Practitioner graduates had been complementing the efforts of the few doctors/nurses in the provision of primary healthcare in regional, district and other health institutions across the country that lacked critical staff, they had not benefited from this provision.

Dr. Elias Sory, Northern Regional Director of Health said the Nurse Practitioners programme was a carbon copy of that of the Canadian Health Services, which needed to be restructured to suit the needs and aspiration of the country's health sector to enhance quality health care.

He said the gaps existing in the health sector had been created because of the training patterns, which had not been in the best interest of the country.

He noted the high population growth rate of the country and said training programmes must be streamlined to cope with the challenge. "The human resource planning should take into consideration the growth rate and the needs of the country," he added.