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31.10.2005 Regional News

Laboratory technology students threaten demo

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Accra, Oct. 31, GNA - The Medical Laboratory Technology Students Association (MELTSA) of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital on Monday threatened a protest march to the Ministry of Health (MOH) if their demands for proper accreditation among others were not met by next Monday.

Additionally, graduates of the school currently serving as interns in the various government laboratories across the country have also threatened to withdraw their services on the same day if the Ministry did not respond promptly to the plight of the students and graduates of the school.

Mr James Tetteh Ehiawey, President of the Students Representative Council, told journalists in Accra that students were displeased with the lukewarm approach of the Ministry towards rectifying the accreditation of the Diploma programme currently being run by the school.

He said since 2000, when the Diploma programme was commenced in the school, two batches of students had passed out in 2003 and 2004 without their Diploma awards.

"This has greatly affected their chances of academic progression and job placement due to categorization factor," he said. "As of now, the 2003 and 2004 graduates of the school do not know whether they are Diploma or Certificate holders."

Mr Ehiawey blamed the situation on inadequate preparations for proper accreditation for the award of Diploma, which was reserved for tertiary institutions accredited by the National Accreditation Board or the University.

Mr Ehiawey said students demand that all academic activities of the school should be suspended until the accreditation problem was fully resolved.

They also demanded that the school should be handed over to the School of Allied Health Science (SAHS) of the University of Ghana as recommended by at least two committees, previously appointed at separate times to look into the matter.

"The authorities concerned should also ensure that the interim salary levels of the graduates, as agreed at the stakeholders meeting chaired by the Minister of Health, Major (Rtd) Courage Quashigah on March 2, 2005, should be respected and implemented."

Mr Ehiawey recalled that following a letter the SRC wrote to Dr Kweku Afriyie, the then Minister of Health on March 24, 2004, a five-member committee headed by Dr Kwesi Nimo was set up to investigate the need to restructure the administration of the school. He noted that the committee recommended that the school should be handed over to the SAHS. In the meantime those who had gone through the Diploma programme should be employed and remunerated as Diploma holders and the SAHS should be allowed to use their own criteria in admitting students.

Mr Ehiawey said the committee also recommended a suspension of intake of new students.

He added that students ready for internship had to boycott postings because the recommendations of the committee were not being implemented. He said following their boycott, the minister called stakeholders meeting where it was agreed that with regard to job placement the interns due for postings should be placed on salary level 11.2 pending the topping-up programme from July 2005.

"July came but the students' expectations were not met by the ministry without any explanations," he said.

"The interns had a rude shock when a letter authorizing the processing of their accumulated salary stated that they had been placed on the level of Technical Officer 11, which was breach of agreement by the ministry."

Mr Ehiawey said additionally the directives to the Principal to ensure the handing over of the school to the SAHS had not been complied with. Meanwhile, new intake into the school was going on in spite of the recommendation of the Nimo Committee to suspend it. He said the attitude of the ministry and the principal to the plight of students was a disincentive not only to students but also to the entire country, as the withdrawal of services by Medical Laboratory Scientists would have a negative impact on the national health delivery system.

Mr Ehiawey urged the ministry to consider the social impact of the withdrawal of their service and expedite action on the demands before the November 7, deadline. 31 Oct. 05