On the 24th of March, 2020, a press release issued and signed by the Executive Director of the National Service Scheme (NSS), directed all health personnel including those within the health sector to take a mandatory paid leave.
The statement stated that:
1. All National Service Personnel are to take their mandatory paid-annual leave effective Thursday, 25th March, 2020 till the end of April 2020.
2. All newly-posted nurses who are due to start national Service in April 2020, are also to take the month of April 2020 as their terminal leave.
This was relieving and timely news considering the lack of sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the country’s health facilities even within the cities of Greater Accra and Kumasi.
On the 26th of March, 2020 a “contrary” statement was issued by the Ministry of Health, titled, “Engagement of nurses and midwives in the fight against Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic”. In this statement, the ministry re-engaged all nurses and midwives at post until the end of their service. It added that nurses and midwives who are due to commence the 2020/2021 national service should report to their various posting centers to commence their service as required.
The National Health Students Association of Ghana (NAHSAG) as the umbrella body for all health students and new graduates in the country is well aware of the challenging times and the difficult measures to be taken. We are however perturbed about the conditions of service for these 18,081 NSS health personnel that is 9,018 for 2019/2020 and 9,062 for 2020/2021 especially in this COVID-19 Pandemic.
NAHSAG therefore calls on government to consider the following;
1. Immediately include NSS health personnel working at frontline facilities in the country to the special life insurance cover. At this point, every health personnel at any frontline facility in this country is a frontline worker due to the uncertainty of COVID-19 status of patients visiting these facilities every day.
2. Increase the service allowance by an appreciable percentage to serve as risk allowance for these dedicated patriots at these facilities.
3. Provide the necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for all Personnel at frontline facilities. Effective protection is key in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic as frontline workers.
NAHSAG anticipates a swift action in the betterment of the conditions of service for our NSS health personnel in the forefront of this pandemic regardless of location because every life matters for “Had I known, has never been realized beforehand; had I known, is always too late”.
Moses N. Bondong
Ministry of Health (MoH)
National Service Scheme (NSS)
Ghana Health Service (GHS)
Nursing and Midwifery Council (N&MC)
Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives’ Association (GRNMA)
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