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05.02.2005 Health

Tamale area health professionals for special allowance

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Tamale, Feb. 5, GNA - Dr. Sam Baffour Obeng-Agyei, Medical Superintendent of the Tamale West Hospital has appealed to the government to consider also health professionals in the Tamale Metropolitan Area for the "deprived area allowance" package it instituted as motivation for working in rural communities.

He said even though Tamale is classified as a metropolis, it was difficult to attract health professionals to the area, therefore the few that had accepted postings to the area were overwhelmed with work. Dr. Obeng-Agyei was speaking at an end-of-year party and awards night organized for workers of the hospital on Friday in Tamale to take stock of their operations for last year and to plan for the future. "Health professionals in the (Tamale) metropolitan area are equally working under hash and difficult conditions as their colleagues in the deprived communities and needed to be motivated with this package," he said.

He said staff of the hospital had been working under constraints such as poor environment conditions, inadequate staffing and infrastructure, and obsolete equipment, but these notwithstanding, the hospital had provided quality healthcare to the people. Dr. Obeng-Agyei said last year, the hospital made 1,065 successful child deliveries out of 14,836 pregnant women who attended its antenatal clinic.

He attributed the high attendance to the government's fee exemption policy for pregnant women and the receptive behaviour of the hospital's midwives.

He said though child delivery had increased, there was the suspicion that several expectant mothers were still delivering at home, resulting in maternal deaths in the communities.

Dr Obeng-Agyei said 269 million cedis was spent from the HIPC funds on antenatal care and deliveries at the hospital while 199 million cedis was disbursed on exemptions for children under five years and the elderly.

Out of 2,859 admissions last year, 74.5 per cent were malaria cases, which has become the number one killer among children in the area.

He appealed to the people in the metropolis to keep their environment clean and advised pregnant women and children to sleep under treated mosquito nets to reduce the incidence of malaria.

The Northern Regional Director of Health Services, Dr. Elias Sory, announced that the regional health directorate had embarked on public education on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in the area to encourage more people to join it.

He therefore urged health workers to prepare themselves adequately and take up the challenges that the NHIS would posed on them to ensure its smooth implementation, "no matter the constraints". Alhaji Iddrisu Adam, Tamale Metropolitan Chief Executive, who was the guest of honour, advised health workers to always exercise their rights carefully when embarking on strike action.

He reminded them that workers in the country were mutually dependent and so "if health professionals should go on strike, it will affect the sick alone, but if teachers should go on strike, it will affect the children of doctors, pharmacists, nurses and their labourers".

Twenty employees of the hospital that distinguished themselves in the performance of their duties received awards.

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