Kumasi, Aug 6, GNA- The services of 408 doctors trained at a cost of 24.4 million dollars are likely to be lost by 2006 if the present trend of brain drain among the country's health professionals continued unchecked.
Within the same period, it is projected that 591 pharmacists and 1,883 nurses would join the exodus for greener pastures.
Dr Kwame Addo Kufuor, Minister of Defence, gave the projections at the opening of the 26th annual congress of the Society of Private Medical and Dental Practitioners Ghana (SPMDP) at the Georgia Hotel in Kumasi on Friday.
The three-day congress has the theme: "Health Insurance In Ghana". Dr Addo Kufuor said it had become necessary for the country to re-think its policy on professional training.
He said the public would have to discuss if it was just simple enough to appeal to the conscience of the young health professionals to stay and serve the people whose taxes saw them through their training or to bond them to work in the country for a number of years.
He also questioned if they could be asked to pay monetary compensation before they could be allowed to leave.
The Defence Minister noted that looking at the size and strength of the country's economy, the incentive packages lined up for health professionals by the government were tremendous.
Dr Addo-Kufuor conceded that the work load and conditions under which they operated were stressful, saying, 1,400 doctors were doing the work supposed to be done by 5,000 doctors while 9,000 nurses carry the work load meant for 30,000 nurses.
The Deputy Minister of Health, Mr Moses Dani-Baah, asked the private providers to support the implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) for the collective benefit of society.
He described the NHIS as unique in the sense that it captures the entire population and said this noble objective was worthy of support by all.
Mr Dani-Baah said although the scheme would not solve all of the country's health problems, it was much better than the "cash and carry" system.
Mr Dani-Baah said the government was assisting 44 private doctors to acquire vehicles at highly discounted prices.
He said 17 of the vehicles were ready and would soon be allocated. Dr L.T. Ofosu, National Chairman of the Society, welcomed the NHIS, saying, looking at the economy and differences in pricing health care, it was the logical way forward.
He, however, said there was the need for intensive education of the public and learn from the experiences of countries operating the scheme to "narrow the scope of our mistakes".
Earlier in a welcoming address, Dr Samuel Adabie, the Ashanti Regional Chairman of the Society, said the cash and carry system has had a profound negative effect on the private practice.
"It made private practice unattractive to young doctors and in Ashanti Region for example for the last three years only one doctor joined our ranks," he said.