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Opinions of Saturday, 5 May 2018

Columnist: Nana Kwame Appiah

Concerns of unemployed graduate health professionals on NABCO

The government must of course be commended for the NABCO initiative but however, some genuine concerns needs to be taken into consideration and addressed accordingly.

One such concern is that of the unemployed graduate health professionals (Midwives, Nurses, Pharmacy Technologists, Medical Laboratory Technicians etc.) that are being encouraged by the government to sign onto NABCO for temporary job placements and per information given by the government on NABCO, successful applicants will;

1. Undergo training
2. Be equipped with the necessary work tools
3. Earn a monthly allowance of GhC700 and
4. Be deployed around the country to help build Ghana

So then, what are the concerns of these unemployed graduate health professionals?

These category of graduates are PROFESSIONALS – people who have acquired special education, training or skills for a specific field of work. It is therefore not prudent on the part of government to train them again before working since they already have the skills, training and education required to carry out their work.

Being professionals also requires licenses to practice, of which these professionals duly have, and will therefore be illegal on the part of government to infiltrate the health sector with unqualified persons to take the roles of the professionals. For instance, employing a graduate in political science to work as a nurse, a land economy graduate to work as a Pharmacy Technologist etc. are genuinely inappropriate and illegal.

Since these professionals are the only people required by law to undertake their respective duties in our health system, they are therefore indispensable and a special class among the unemployed graduates and are already clearly aware of their job descriptions, conditions of service and other benefits due them.

With their colleagues already in permanent employment enjoying their full benefits, and they NABCO ‘employees’ going to take GHc700 every month while they do the same work, work for same hours and run shifts as their colleagues already in employment, then they deserve better than GHc700 (about less than 50% of their standard salary) which is woefully inadequate and indicative on the part of government as cheaply engaging them to the detriment of their personal and career development.

While government argue that NABCO is not compulsory to sign onto, the facts are clear that our health sector needs more of these health professionals and as I write, almost all hospitals in the country are in shortage of skilled labour, so why can’t the government duly engage them since the situation isn’t that there are no jobs for them especially the Pharmacy technologists and Medical laboratory technicians whose numbers in our healthcare system is woefully inadequate as compared to nurses and midwives. If not, then the government as a matter of urgency need to improve the benefits of the graduate unemployed health professionals under the NABCO program.

Of course government will once again argue that, there are no funds but they in government are enjoying high salaries, allowances and other benefits while the youth of this nation wallow in abject poverty and as the saying goes, ‘what is good for the goose, is equally good for the gander’, so why can’t our politicians take say 50% of their salaries and forfeit the remainder for the nations development since we are all helping build a better Ghana?