A member of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), Dr Ernest Kwapong has said government’s decision to fly in doctors from Cuba to work in place of striking doctors is a misplaced priority and will not solve the fundamental problems in the health sector, especially in the face of the GMAs strike.
Government on Tuesday announced that 177 doctors from Cuba will be sent in to support healthcare delivery in the country.
Speaking on Eyewitness News, Dr Kwapong recalled a similar intervention that happened in the country about ten years ago which he said did not address the nation’s health challenges.“In late 1998, when there was a protracted strike over inadequate, Cuban doctors and retired doctors were brought in; some people were matured hurriedly and licensed to practice against the laws of the Medical and Dental Council. In the end we had to be called back. After all these intervention, the health sector was still struggling.”
He further called for cool heads to prevail as a way of solving the current impasse.
Dr Ernest Kwapong further appeled to his colleague doctors to go back to negotiate with government anytime they are called.
“I will like to plead with my colleague doctors that let us stay focus, let us ignore all the side issues, and anytime government wants us to negotiate we should be avail ourselves and make compromises so that we have a signed and sealed and codified conditions of service. I want to appeal to government that, that road, we’ve been there before and it didn’t help in the end. So they should also have cool heads and let us sit and address the situation. unless they are saying that they are putting in all these measures, they have withdrawn the negotiations, they are not talking to us, we should go hand, and that they are willing for the health service to completely go down so that they build it from afresh using foreigners. If that is what they want, I don’t know about management but I would argue that it is not the proper way to manage it.”
He also challenged government’s assertion that the strike by the GMA is illegal, saying it is government that is involved in an illegality.
“When you engage someone, by the third month, you should have operationalized their conditions of service. Here is the case where we do not even have a codified, signed condition of service. We are just given an appointment letter, telling us of our pay grade and that’s it. Is that legal?”
He said, “in my humble opinion, I think that government is approaching this the wrong way. It may appear as though they are seeing labor as a political opponent.”