Doctors threaten to strike from August 6

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Ghana may be wrestling with a full-fledged strike by doctors at the end of August if the Ghana Medical Association’s (GMA) latest list of demands to the government are not met.

Following a National Executive Council meeting on July 27, the association has outlined a number of issues it wants to be addressed before August 6, failing which, an escalating strike will begin.

First, all doctors working in the public service shall withdraw Out-Patient services.

From August 20, all emergency services shall be withdrawn, then on August 27, “all services offered by doctors in the public health facilities shall be totally withdrawn.”

Among these demands, the GMA in a statement has recommended that “non-core expenditures [National Health Insurance Authority] should be suspended.”

This is because of the financial struggles afflicting the National Health Insurance Scheme.

Despite these struggles, government officials, as noted by the GMA, are known to request significant amounts of financial support from the NHIA.

Most recently, the Procurement Minister, Sarah Adwoa Safo admitted to having requested $8,500 for a training programme.

The NHIA also spent GHc62,000 on some communicators to sensitize Ghanaians on NHIS initiatives.

Working conditions

The GMA also raised concerns with the implementation of the conditions of service document signed in October 2015.

In addition, it wants their market premiums to return to a factor percentage of basic salary.

“The above award was implemented for only a year, after which government unilaterally decided to make it a fixed figure, contrary to the ruling of the NLC.”

Issues of reduced pensions were also highlighted in the statement.

“The issues of doctors having suffered reduced pensions following migration onto the Single Spine Pay Policy and the non-payment of conversion difference is still outstanding since December 2011 in spite of the NLC’s compulsory arbitration award which binds both parties (and subsequent directives by the NLC to the government to correct same).”

It, however, said the “government has been lackadaisical in bringing closure to the outstanding issues.”

Incentive packages also need to improve to attract doctors to deprived areas, the association stressed.

It lamented “the inequitable distribution of critical healthcare staff which has resulted in most deprived communities in Ghana not receiving the desired standard of cared.”

By: Delali Adogla-Bessa/citinewsroom.com/Ghana