Officials of the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) are scheduled to have a crucial meeting on Monday to iron out a number of issues which have the potential of creating tension within the public health sector.
On October 1, this year, the Daily Graphic reported that a controversy was raging between the GMA and the MOH over whether the salaries of doctors had been reduced to bridge the gap between the salaries of doctors and those of the other categories of health workers.
While the GMA insisted that it suspected attempts to slash the salaries of its members to top up those of the other health workers, the MOH categorically denied any such attempt.
Last week there were media reports of a supposed meeting between the two, groups to iron out their differences but it never materialised.
According to the Daily Graphic, the much-awaited meeting had been confirmed in a letter signed by a Deputy Minister of Health, Dr (Mrs) Gladys Norley Ashitey, asking the GMA executive to attend the meeting at 10.00 a.m. today.
The agenda of the meeting include issues concerning the alleged attempts by the MOH to slash the salaries of doctors and the withdrawal of the fuel allowances that medical and dental doctors enjoyed before the new salary structure was introduced in June 2006.
There is also some argument going on within the health sector over a statement allegedly made by the Minister of Health, Major Courage Quashigah (Rtd), when he took his turn at the Meet-the-Press series on October 9, 2007, to the effect that health workers in Ghana were the second highest paid on the continent, next only to South Africa.
The meeting will also generally address all issues concerning the salary structure of public health workers and, most especially, members of the Medical and Dental Council.
A statement issued by the GMA at its congress in Wa in the Upper West Region indicated that a controversy was raging between the GMA and the MOH over the alleged attempt to reduce the salaries of doctors in order to bridge the gap between the salaries of doctors and those of the other categories of health workers.
A highly placed source at the MOH denied any such move, stating that the salaries of doctors were intact.
In the said statement, which was signed by the GMA President, Dr Francis Adu-Ababio, and the General Secretary, Dr Kwabena Opoku-Adusei, the GMA did not hide its intention to resist any attempt to alter the Health Sector Salary Structure (HSSS) more as a result of agitation by the other health professionals than any due regard for the exhaustive job description and evaluation exercise undertaken in the health sector.
The GMA in May this year, said it had sighted a document titled "Public Health Sector Pay Reform Restructure Pay scale 1 and 2 Combined" and claimed that the government intended to implement it to the disadvantage of doctors.
In his reaction to the statement from the GMA, the Minister of Health denied the allegation by the association and described it as "unfounded".