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13.10.2005 General News

Medical professionals must be patriotic - Akosa

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Accra, Oct. 13, GNA - Professor Agyeman-Badu Akosa, Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), on Wednesday said medical professionals in Ghana were not doing justice to the people with their rampant strike actions to back demand for better conditions of service.

"Under no circumstance whatsoever should medical doctors, nurses and other medical professionals withdraw their services from the masses to back their demand for better conditions from the Government as in such instances it is the people and not the Government who suffer," he said.

Prof. Akosa made the observation at the 12th William Ofori-Atta Memorial Lectures organised by the William Ofori-Atta Heritage under the theme; "Patriotism in Nation Building".

Speaking on the topic, "The Role of Patriotism in the Affairs of Ghana Today", Prof. Akosa said it was also sad that though majority of Ghanaians self-medicate with drugs which could only be used on prescription, until recently medical professionals looked on unconcerned.

Prof. Akosa decried mass exodus of medical and other professionals from the country saying, "nobody from nowhere will change the destiny of this country for the better other than Ghanaians and if we leave then this country will only deteriorate."

He, however, stated that realistic wages were a must, if strike actions, corruption, lackadaisical attitude to work and work place stealing were to give way for patriotism to take root in the country. Prof. Akosa noted that underpinning the demise of the patriotic spirit in Ghanaians was the survivalist instinct, which accounted for the mad rush for money and its attendant attitude of "do anything good or bad to get money".

Prof. Akosa dilated on the lyrics and values of the patriotic song "Yen ara y'asase ni", composed by the late Dr Ephraim Amu, saying that vices such as conceit, selfishness and greed, which spoiled our way of life, had rather become the order of the day.

He said though the song warned against studying for selfish gains, mad rush for money and favouritism, Ghanaians at all levels of public and private lives were deeply engulfed in these vices to survive at the expense of the country.

Prof. Akosa reiterated the need to make learning and examination on the values of the song compulsory at all levels of education to restore the patriotic spirit in Ghanaians from childhood.

He said love for country, readiness to defend country, respect for fellow Ghanaians and respect for the elderly were necessary patriotic values needed to move Ghana forward.

Touching on education Prof. Akosa noted that there were some senior secondary schools, which had never sent even one student to any university and yet continued to operate.

He said parents unsuspectingly continued to send their wards to such schools with the hope of getting them to the university.

"Questions from the West African Examinations Council continue to leak every year and nobody has been asked to take responsibility - recently candidates got stranded at examination centres on examination day without their index numbers and nobody has been asked to resign or take responsibility," he said.

Prof. Akosa touched on taxation saying that the Value Added Tax (VAT) system could be improved to make sure more people paid tax. He suggested that instead of leaving the decision as to who charged VAT at the discretion of the VAT office, the VAT law should state that all shops should charge VAT to ensure some uniformity and the VAT office assessed them at the end of the financial year.

Professor Akosa noted that some Ghanaian proverbs such as, "Where you work is where you eat" was largely responsible for workplace stealing, saying that the cultural value system needed to be revamped to flush out some of the sayings deemed as wise but which were actually destructive of the moral fabric.

He condemned the hit hip-life song "Obia nnye obia - nobody is anybody," performed by Sydney, as a song that fanned indiscipline and disrespect for the elderly, fellow Ghanaians and called for action to be taken to stop it.

Mr Yaw Boadu Ayeboafo, Editor of the Graphic, noted that though the very essence of politics was patriotism and service to one's country, politicians in Ghana today had thwarted the concept.

He expressed grave concern about the way freedom of the press was being woefully abused by some media practitioners who were paid by politicians.

"Sometimes my colleagues and I who fought for press freedom wonder why we had to waste our time and energy to fight for that right because some of senior and junior colleagues alike continue to abuse it to the extent that one wonders whether they are intelligent or stupid," he said.

Mr Ayeboafo said on several occasions media practitioners had been told that they owed allegiance to the people of Ghana and had a duty to the masses and not to any politician and yet media people continued to play politics with their practice to the detriment of national interest. He also deplored what he called the rampant criticism of the judiciary by the executive and the legislature saying that whereas the judiciary had never openly criticised the other two arms of Government, the latter criticised the former openly very often.

"This unfortunate tendency goes a long way to undermine not only our justice system but also our strenuous effort at attracting foreign investors into this country because those criticism send a clear message to investors that our justice system cannot protect their investment."

Mr Ayeboafo said it was also unfortunate how politicians praised the Electoral Commission (EC) only when their party won elections and condemned the EC on losing elections.

"We have always made our distrust for foreign missions obvious but when it comes to the authenticity of election results, politicians only accept the result when foreign observers say it is authentic. Meanwhile our EC is rated as one of the best in the world."

Mr Ayeboafo decried recent unfortunate slogan "Kufuor nie, Ataa Ayi nie" by ex-President Jerry John Rawlings on one hand and President John Agyekum Kufuor's description of a Member of Parliament as a bleating goat, saying that these were not patriotic as they undermined our leadership and respect for the elderly.

Various contributors to the lecture noted that the manner some patriots like Dr Joseph Boakye Danquah, Mr Ako Adjei and Mr Obetsebi Lamptey were treated by their own colleagues also accounted for why Ghanaians had lost interest in being patriotic.

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