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General News of Saturday, 29 November 2003

Source: GNA

Ghana lost 12,365 Health Professionals 1993-2002

Statistics show that 12,365 health professionals left the country in search of greener pastures between 1993 and 2002.

Of the figure 630 were medical doctors, 410 pharmacists, 83 laboratory technicians and 11,325 nurses including auxiliaries.

Dr Kwame Addo Kufuor, Minister of Defence, said in 2002 the nation lost 70 doctors, 77 pharmacists and 214 nurses, adding, "from all indications, the problem is assuming alarming proportions".

He was addressing the 10th Oath Swearing Ceremony for 92 newly trained doctors from the School of Medical Science (SMS), Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi on Friday.

Dr Addo Kufuor said the truth is that Ghana, as a developing country, could not match the attractive pay and conditions of service offered by the more affluent countries to which the doctors, nurses and other health professionals move when they turn their backs on their country.

He urged the newly trained doctors to give some thought to the problem to determine for themselves whether the poor farmers and fisher folk, the low-paid workers, their families and dependants from whose taxes they are able to acquire their training as doctors are getting value for their investment in their education.

The Minister said "perhaps the time has come for the district assemblies and other stakeholders to sponsor students through the medical schools and also through post graduate professional courses in return for dedicated service to the people and institutions which sponsored their professional development".

Dr Addo Kufuor appealed to managers of the various health insurance schemes to make provision not only for professional career development of health professionals they engage but also ensure that they enjoy satisfactory conditions of service to make them happy to remain in the country.

''After all, without contented service providers there can be no successful health insurance scheme'', he said.

Dr Addo Kufuor spoke of the great efforts the government is making to solve problems facing the health professionals and mentioned the provision of means of transport, prompt payment of additional duty allowances, improved post qualification training facilities, the proposed mortgage loans and the establishment of health insurance schemes as well as rehabilitation and completion of various health facilities.

Professor Kwesi A. Andam Vice-Chancellor of the University, asked the doctors to help ensure a reduction in health inequalities in the country between the north and the south, urban and rural areas by accepting or opting to work in these areas.

He said the doctor is a critical factor in realising the objectives of the health care system and that the university is determined to double the intake of students at the SMS to help meet the nation's demand for more doctors.

Prof Andam said the university has plans to review the curriculum of the medical school to bring it in conformity with the challenges of the times.

Prof E.T. Agbenyega, Dean of the SMS, said the School has since 1975 turned out 792 doctors.

He advised medical professionals to cultivate the spirit of sacrificing.

''The rate you are leaving the country can lead to calls for full cost recovery in the training of doctors and other health professionals'', he said.

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