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03.04.2007 Health

A Charge To Keep

At the induction of newly-qualified doctors in Accra last Friday, the Minister of Defence, Dr Kwame Addo-Kufuor, himself one of the finest in the field, might have pricked the conscience of professionals trained at the expense of the taxpayer but who abandon the country to seek greener pastures, especially in the developed Western countries.

Dr Addo-Kufuor pointed out that it cost the Ghanaian taxpayer $80,000 to train a doctor and asked those who left to reflect on whether they had been good investment to the taxpayer.

Ghanaian taxpayers are willing and ready to make that sacrifice, which most of us on our own can never afford, because they know that after our training, we will provide them quality service with a human face which will be uniquely Ghanaian.

Accordingly, when we abandon our people immediately on qualification and deny them returns on their investment, we become liabilities to the national development effort.

There are many of our professionals, including doctors, who can never afford the level of fees charged for their kind of training in those countries where they think they will receive remunerative salaries and other conditions of service.

As Dr Addo-Kufuor rightly pointed out, there was no way that Ghana could afford to pay the salaries pertaining in the developed Western countries. Therefore, there is the need for patriotism and sacrifice.

A number of measures have been taken in recent years to improve upon the working environment and conditions of service of doctors. These include the provision of facilities for post-graduate and specialised programmes to upgrade the competence of doctors.

There are some Ghanaian doctors in public employment who have teamed up to set up private hospitals. But Ghanaians are not that much bothered because of the feeling that outside the public hospitals, the services of such doctors are still available to Ghanaians.

The average Ghanaian has a very high regard for doctors. That is why, on the social ladder, doctors are given the pride of place. Therefore, while status alone does not put food on the table, wealth is nothing if it is not appreciated, recognised or is spurned by society.

It is in this regard that we would want to resonate the appeal made by Dr Addo-Kufuor to the doctors and all educated Ghanaians that if we sacrifice and stay at home to put our services at the disposal of our people, we shall prosper, even if the process is gradual and imperceptible.

Those Ghanaians who have worked in the country all their lives are no paupers, even if they do not own mansions. They are among the most appreciated professionals in our country.

The time has come for professionals educated within and outside the country with the taxpayer's money to recognise, appreciate, compliment and complement the efforts of poor taxpayers and help build our nation.

The development of this country cannot be sustained on remittances, no matter how big, but on the sweat of all the people, including professionals, whose services would be provided from within. That is the charge we have to keep.