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Opinions of Sunday, 1 April 2018

Columnist: Patrick Twumasi

The day Ghanaians chose not to serve Ghana

It was sad, unfortunate and heart wrenching to read the banner headline “Doctor Shortage hits Northern Region ….. Not a single doctor accepted postings to the area in 2017” in the Wednesday 31st January, 2018 edition of the Ghanaian Times.

The details in page 18 of the paper simply send shockwaves through the spine and set the mind of every true patriot thinking about what hit the patriotic citizen.

Reader, even doctors trained at the University of Development Studies Medical School refused postings to the area. You can be surprised or worried; you should be, but not up to neck deep.

Let me ask; were there no students from the region among the graduated Medical Doctors trained from the UDS Medical School? If there were did they also refused to serve in the area? If there was none, then, the issue gets a new twist all together.

Fellow Ghanaian, the situation confronting this part of the country needs urgent attention, frankness and calling a spade a spade. Let’s be critical about the three Regions in the North; Northern, Upper East and Upper West.
Over the years the impression that has been created and handed down generation to the other is that there are perceived “Second Class” citizens living in that part of the country. Cheap labour have always emanated from there to the South.

Unfortunately, this vicious cycle has been entrenched and perpetuated by the social structures and the power there be to the utter detriment of the development of that area. Now the Region is not attractive to the professional to accept posting to work there.

Permit me to ask, will an investor reading this be encouraged to move to the Northern Region with the needed and much sort after investment? Do you think this will boost investor confidence or deter them? This emanates from the impression that, the Region is not attractive to even the Ghanaian, why should the same Region earn the interest and confidence of the foreign investor?

The needed human and infrastructural development for this part of the country has been neglected for years. This has made life quiet difficult leading to the youth migrating to the South especially, young ladies as kayayie (Head Porters). No institution, Civil Society Organisation or Christian Organisation have resisted this downward spiral underdevelopment of the three Regions in the North.

Today Doctors are not willing to accept postings to the area, sad. We are saddled with political clout, now its cloud-burst, resulting in mass refusal of postings by Medical Doctors.

According to A. N. Whitehead an English Philosopher, “Education is the purgation of the crudities of the mind” Education is to improve the thinking and reasoning of the educated. The attitude of the educated must reflect the transformation of the mind, body and soul.

Education is liberation; hence, the educated must have a liberated mind. However, the education offered to students in this country should be looked at critically. It is high time policy makers in education look beyond literacy that inculcates the attitude of self-love to the neglect of the mother land. Why should an educated fellow refuse to work in any part of the country that his or her services are needed, while volunteers from other countries go to serve?

If the quote of A. N. Whitehead is considered thoroughly, one can say that education has changed nothing in the minds of some Ghanaians. This is one of many situations that the educated have failed our teaming population when they needed their expertise.

Additionally, Abraham Lincoln the 16th President of the United States of America said “I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him” Can this be said of the Ghanaian professional who is refusing to work in some part of the country, especially, the Northern Region?

As a country we have been complaining about the attitude of the Ghanaian, however, little effort has been made to transform the society and her social actors. Can I say then, that the Ghanaian society is at a pathological state? This is where the social actors refuse to play the role society has cast for them. Even the Medical Doctors trained in the Region are refusing postings there. What are the issues to be interrogated to change this trend? Are we proud of our country or can our country proud of us?

The Deputy Director, Northern Regional Directorate of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr. John Abayire expressed shock how Doctors trained at the University of Development Studies could refuse postings to the Northern Region. What we must remind ourselves is that, during their study and House man ship; they saw the deprivation as well as despise the Region suffers from policy makers and lack of working tools.

This was factored into their decision to rescind posting to the Region. The years of neglect, with concentration only on political brilliance but development short-sightedness has led to noiseless placid water gathering unhealthy debris and eventually is spreading deadly diseases of refusals.

As a nation, we should not pretend to be overly surprised that professionals are refusing to work in that part of the country, because, many technocrats have managed to get-out of labour transfers to the three Regions in the North. Many graduates meant for National Service have ‘worked’ their way out to refuse postings to the area. What has been the national orientation to change this trend?

Come to think of it, how could a citizen refuse to work in any part of his or her country, when Japanese and other national Volunteers go to the remotest villages to transform such places? We need policy makers to season action with wit and not the regular sinking into sloth and stupor. As alluded to earlier, poverty scares and gets you thinking twice. As a nation we have not attached reasoning to development as feeling.

Though it’s alarming to read that, no Doctor accepted postings to the Northern Region we should ask; what are the incentives available to professionals who accept to work in the three Regions in the North and other underprivileged communities or villages?

If the conditions of service are the same as their colleagues working in the South, then why would a Doctor, Nurse or any other professional accept postings there? If you are with yourself surprise for the current situation, then sorry, because, the nation nurtured it to blossom with no attention paid to the physical infrastructural development of the Northern Region.
Incentives such as study leave, decent accommodation, medical benefits and allowances will be mouthwatering to attract quality professionals to the area. Professionals who choose to serve the country in deprived areas should be given some preference over colleagues in the relatively comfortable areas.

The spectators of the stadium of blame game should be opened fairly and firmly at the door step of the Savanna Accelerated Development Agency (SADA), which is the name of the game we are perfect at playing. SADA has woefully disappointed the three Regions in the North. Instead of these individuals working to improve the good of the common man, it’s only tainted and objectionable political scandals that are turnout from the Agency. Could the Agency not have invested in areas that will improve development of the area?

Politicians should be shown the red card, to desist from looking at the Region for votes not seeking development for her. There must be a general orientation nationally about patriotism by the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) to improve labour mobility by professionals to serve at any part of the country.

The three Regions in the North deserve the best of infrastructure to attract the desired man power needed to improve the growth of that area of the country. The change and transformation should be now.