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23.11.2011 Editorial

The health of the nation

By Ghanaian Chronicle
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A complete collapse of the health service in Ghana was only aborted when the Ghana Medical Association called off its strike action, and entered into compulsory arbitration with the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, supervised by the National Labour Commission.

Over the weekend, the Ghana Medical Association reacted to the settlement in a manner that suggested that our medical officers are far from happy. The GMA is disturbed by the grading structure, market premium, and the contentious issue of promotion.

'It is clear that the ruling did not take into consideration the abnormal promotional patterns. There was no correction or compensation for the half-a-step promotional patterns for doctors on the structure after five years of service, as compared to other health workers galloping per promotion, that is, one or more jumps across bands for the same number of years served,' the GMA complained in an official statement.

The Chronicle agonises so much over this nation's inability or refusal to appreciate the role of doctors in national development. For us, the moment Minister of Health Joseph Yileh Chireh took his vacation in the heat of the doctor's strike, the message was clear. The problem of doctors' migration or disembarkation on the Single Spine Salary Structure was not a national priority.

To compound the problem, the Deputy Minister of Health, Robert Joseph Mettle-Nunoo, rubbed salt into the wounds of our doctors, when he declared, at the time the GMA squared up for their compulsory arbitration, that doctors accept whatever was offered by the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, or  resign en-bloc from the Ghana Health Service.

We believe what is happening is not accidental. It is a well-orchestrated move by agents of the state after it was discovered rather late in the day, that the wage bill was set to balloon with all state employees being migrated onto the single spine.

All that our doctors are saying is that the spine, over which their salaries and all emoluments hang, is damaged. It is incapable of addressing their concerns.

We would like to believe that all Ghanaians would be interested in the concerns of our doctors. We owe it a duty to examine them properly, and offer amicable solutions to avoid disruption in health delivery in the public service.

The Chronicle would like to ask the Ghana Medical Association to appeal to their members to exercise restraint, as their leadership tries and reasons with their employers.

We would like to believe that the Fair Wages and Salary Commission and the National Labour Commission would re-visit their ruling on the doctors' migration.

The whole saga is threatening the stability of this nation. Doctors are key to the health of the nation. Surely, we do not want to create a scenario that would make this nation re-visit the three weeks strike by our medical officers on the body politic once again.

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