The junior doctors' association with Dr. Desmond Oppong as president today released a statement rebutting earlier claims by the northern regional health services Deputy Director of Public Health, Dr John Abenyeri that doctors did not accept posting to the three northern regions of Ghana.
The deputy director who made these claims a few days ago in a consultative meeting with the Health Minister, Kweku Agyeman Manu may have missed his facts when the junior doctors association today detailed the number of doctors from the 2014 graduating class currently working in the northern parts of the country.
Below is the full statement from the junior doctors.
The attention of the leadership of the Junior Doctors’ Association has been drawn to a misleading news item being carried by certain media houses recently. This is with respect to a purported blanket refusal or unwillingness of doctors who have been posted to the three Northern Regions to work in the region.
While the current national doctor: patient ratio is abysmal and falls way below the internationally accepted standard, it dips further in the three regions in the North
In the said news item it was further purported that even doctors who trained in THE UNIVERSITY OF DEVELOPMENT STUDIES (UDS) do not even accept postings to the three regions in the North despite a greater proportion of Doctors trained there coming from the said regions.
From enquiries made from our colleagues in said places we’ve gathered that from the 36 UDS trained Medical Officers posted last year from the 2014 graduating class 30 have confirmed posting to the public sector: 21 in the Northern sector(UE, UW, NR, BA) and 9 in south (VR, AS, CR, GR, ER) NR (8), UE (8), UW (3), BA (2), AS (3), ER (1), VR (2), GR (2), CR (1) . These facilities include CHAG hospitals, GHS and Tamale Teaching Hospital.
We agree tacitly with the fact that there is a gross shortage of doctors serving in the three regions in the North. This problem has persisted for ages and much can be done without the media fanfare that is usually associated with postings.
To start with, we believe that rural postings in general should be made attractive to all staff. The Health Minister, Hon Agyemang Manu, should be lauded for the bold step he has taken in directing that incentives should be made available to doctors who get posted to less attractive places.
These incentives should however not be restricted to just monetary support. Other ways should include an earlier release of qualified doctors for post graduate training to further boost health delivery in these areas. This will encourage doctors who end up in these less-resourced areas and have to suspend their postgraduate education because no one is replacing them for the period. Hence more doctors will move to these areas so that they can enjoy that benefit.
Also, a comprehensive retooling and equipping of facilities in these less-resourced areas will extremely improve health delivery. Sending a qualified doctor to facility with no operating theatre or without a well-stocked pharmacy/dispensary will reduce the chap to a referring physician at best ( a tag no doctor enjoys) or at worst, become an emotional wreck as he/she looks on as innocent patients die because he/she does not have the resources to intervene.
Government could also adopt measures employed by CHAG facilities which seem to have found a way around these issues and usually seem to have their facilities well resourced.
Furthermore the GMA submitted a document that comprehensively addressed these issues to the Health Ministry .This document and its ideas have yet to be implemented.
That being said, the Junior Doctors Association, together with the Ghana Medical Association is fully committed to partnering Government in ensuring that these deficiencies are met and are ever ready to respond to the clarion call whenever and wherever it is sounded.