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General News of Wednesday, 30 July 2003

Source: GNA

Threats of strike action by doctors uncalled for - Gov't Official

Accra, July 30, GNA- Mr Kofi Amponsah Bediako, a Deputy Government Spokesperson, on Wednesday described the recent threats of strike actions by health professional for better conditions of service as uncalled for and that it retarded government's efforts in striving to improve the economy.

He said; "government acknowledges that health workers deserve more but the economy as at now cannot immediately provide all their needs, even though, certain actions have been taken to improve their condition in some areas".

Mr Amponsah Bediako, who is also the Acting public Relations Officer for the Health Ministry, was speaking to the Ghana News Agency in Accra.

He said the government recently distributed 63 vehicles to health professionals in the deprived areas and a five million dollar vehicles revolving fund had also been set up to purchase 300 more vehicles for them before the end of the year.

These were indication that "government is well committed to improving the current conditions of health workers", he said. He noted that government was negotiating for another 10 million-dollar loan from Home Finance Company to provide houses for health professionals, adding, "the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) is very much aware of these negotiations and I'm very much surprised that GMA is sounding as if nothing had happened".

Mr Amponsah Bediako urged health professionals to be tolerant in their demand for better conditions of service and to help to speed up the negotiations for the benefit of all.

The GMA last week gave government up to October 31, 2003 as the deadline for the completion of negotiations on the poor remuneration and conditions of service of health professional in the country.

The Association at their extraordinary general meeting held at Sunyani to discuss the slow pace of the negotiations with government on the conditions of service for doctors and health professionals said government had shown little commitment, remained evasive and continued to pay lip-service to the negotiations.

The Association also said until government addressed the issue of poor remuneration and conditions of service, the National Health Insurance Scheme could not work effectively.

The doctors noted that the issue of poor remuneration and conditions of service, which were the major factors causing the high brain drain of health professionals from the country had not received adequate attention from government.

The doctors observed that the retention of health professional was paramount to solving Ghana's health care delivery crisis and that the mere presence of vehicles, new facilities and more equipment in themselves without staff would not yield any positive results.