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01.08.2004 General News

Lack of doctors threatens NHIS

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Wa, Aug 1, GNA- The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) on Sunday called on the government to take urgent steps to meet the demands of the doctors in order to retain them.

The association said doctors were a major force in the successful operation of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). It said doctors were worried about the impact the continued exodus of doctors and other health personnel would have on the Scheme, since patronage of clinical services was bound to increase and, thereby put more pressure on the few available health personnel.

This was contained in a communiqu=E9 issued at a news conference at Wa at the end of the fourth National Executive Council meeting of the Association held at Wa at the weekend. During the three-day meeting, the doctors deliberated on wide-ranging issues confronting them and the state of health care delivery in the country. The communiqu=E9 read by Professor Yaw Adu-Gyamfi, President of the Association said, for the past two decades there had been a constant high exodus of doctors due to unsatisfactory conditions of service but not much had been done to address the problem.

The Association mentioned the closure of Maternity Unit of Tema General Hospital a few months ago due to lack of doctors as an indication of a service crying for salvation. They expressed dissatisfaction with the reluctance of government to conclude negotiations on conditions of service for doctors, which had resulted in lowering morale and encouraging industrial action by them. If doctors are satisfied with such short medium and long term benefits like attractive salaries, a car, a home after retirement and adequate pension, they would stay in the country to give out their best as professionals, Professor Adu-Gyamfi said in an answer to questions from newsmen.

"Doctors who retired from the service some few years ago are earning between 200,000 and 500,000 cedis as pensions. This does not encourage the young ones to stay here and work", he noted. The Association reminded the government that failure to address the problems facing the health sector would lead to the total collapse of the health care delivery system.

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