It's instructive for govt to come clear on who qualifies as a frontline worker in the wake of this COVID19 war :
Let me begin by asking these critical questions: before govt concluded on the incentive packages being circulated across various social media platforms which seek to testify to govt's readiness for the #COVIDWAR
- Did we do risk assessment on various health providers and security personnels?
- Were the various health association leaders consulted before the policy-package was designed?
- Who qualifies for the Ghc 350, 000 Insurance package MOH announced?
- Again isn't it obvious that Health workers play different roles making their susceptibility to contracting the disease different....? so increasing the basic salary of all health professionals by 50% in the next 3 months exposes the fundamental weakness in the policy design and same applies to tax exemption on their basic salary for same number of months.
Narrowing the scope of frontline workers to few persons working at isolation centres is very dangerous because other health professionals outside the bracket will be forced to exercise some form of psychological inertia in dealing with their patients and in the coming days hospitals and I will not be surprised if they start redirecting patients who may be possible candidates for the Coronavirus to visit isolation centres to be treated by frontline workers. There's a possibility that the situation may turn ugly in the coming days!
Let's mirror this scenario to a common practice we are all aware of , "often we call 23 players to represent countries at tournaments, 11 players end up on the field and 4 or 5 substitutes will be waiting at the bench ....in the end if victory / loss comes ..it's defined as a collective efforts of a team of 23 and they are paid equally...so why is the situation different for health workers prepping to save millions of lives.
Also the GHc 350,000 life insurance package is not a take home package or a thank you package as many have been misreading.... it's an insurance package and for one to qualify for an insurance package, you must incure a substantial loss, ... so unless one dies or get infected and suffers complications, you cannot make any claim for this sum !!
What is intriguing here is that, if all workers are primed to enjoy 3months tax free on their basic salaries and 50% increment of basic salary, why same cannot be applied to other incentives govt is offering but decides to throw the huge bone to few ?
Another worrying trend has to do with the many health professionals left out, my many years of practice has thought me that, delivery of efficient halthcare is a collective effort and can only be achieved by making everyone feel important despite their diverse role ... a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, lab technician, radiologist, morgue attendant and even the security and their spouses as well ..because the situation doesn't only present a veritable threat to health professionals alone but their immediate families as well.
Again one would have expected govt to announce what is in for various security personnelsl since no one could at this point discount their immense contribution to fighting this outbreak even though some have become cold killers on a shooting spree killing innocent persons but there's nothing for public disclosure raising concerns about the situation
If we fail to cure this looming danger by clearing the ambiguity hanging on various incentives and remuneration packages for healthcare providers, we will end up creating a theatre of war and at the same time invite health professionals into a gun fight with knives and daggers who will end up killing each other leaving Coronavirus even stronger !
The pieces and gaps missing from this policy design alone lend credence to the fact that much thoughts didn't go into, it looks like, people were in a hurry to tell world that " we too we are doing something " populism everywhere...
What is most essential in the fight is not " after death insurance cover" for health and allied professional, we need PPE'S which are basic in the fight against COVID19!!
Our containment approach should be as surgical as possible, no need to to use policies on remuneration and incentives to warp the wills of our dedicated and committed health professionals across the country to go against their oath to discharge their duties efficiently.
I'm a proud health professional, I'm no cynic just a passionate Ghanaian citizen
Ivan Kyei Innocent