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General News of Monday, 20 January 2003

Source: Graphic

Mass Exodus of Nurses!

....3,000 Left Ghana in 2002
ABOUT 3,000 nurses left the country last year to seek greener pastures in other countries.The burn-out rate in the nursing profession last year has reduced the number of nurses in the country from about 13,000 to 9,000.

The President of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), Dr Jacob Plange-Rhule, made this known at the association?s first representative board meeting at Hans Cottage, near Cape Coast yesterday.

The three-day meeting was attended by about 50 doctors, including council members and representatives of the association from all the 10 regions. Dr Plange-Rhule said the burn-out rate for doctors and other para-medical staff is equally alarming. He noted that the number of nurses is expected to reduce further this year if the government does not take immediate steps to conclude negotiations on remuneration and other conditions of service for health professionals.

Dr Plange-Rhule described the situation as alarming, considering the fact that there were about 20,000 nurses in the country about 10 years ago. Presenting the meeting?s communiqu? to the press, Dr Plange-Rhule stated that the association is very apprehensive of the slow pace of negotiations on remuneration and other conditions of service of personnel of the health service and called for an amicable conclusion of the negotiations in the shortest possible time, adding, ?the longer it keeps, the higher the tendency of health personnel moving out of the country.?

He said, ?the negotiations began about 16 months ago and I believe this is long enough a period for the government to come up with something acceptable to both parties to calm the increasing tension and agitation among all categories of health workers.?Dr Plange-Rhule, however, commended the government for the efforts made to acquire vehicles and other means of transport for the health sector but called for quick and equitable distribution of the vehicles, particularly to the rural areas to enable them to serve their purpose.

He also appealed to the government to expedite action on the establishment of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ghana.On the recent petroleum increases, Dr Plange-Rhule said the increases are inevitable but called on the government to ensure that measures announced for implementation to mitigate the effects of the increases on the people are implemented as soon as possible.

The communiqu? also commended the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) for work so far done and encouraged the general public to offer their full co-operation to the commission and participate in this important national healing process.