Kindly accept greetings from the National Secretariat of the National Health Students’ Association of Ghana (NAHSAG).
We; the National Executive Officers (NEO) would want to bring to bear issues affecting our members which demand immediate attention.
To begin with, is the issue of the 2017 batch of Allied Health Professionals trained in our recognized institutions who have not been posted since they completed the mandatory National Service. On 6th April 2020, a public announcement was made by the Ministry of Health indicating the recruitment of 2017 private and public trained nurses and midwives. This came as a surprise us because, during COVID-19 pandemic, we agree that our health sector needs frontline essential health workers to help fight this worthy cause. However, the question we kept asking ourselves was whether the work of these Allied Health professionals which includes Medical Laboratory Scientists, Disease Control Officers, Field Technicians, Health Promotion Officers, Health Information Officers, Health Records Officers, Nutrition Officers and many more other professionals are no longer important in the Ghanaian health system. We believe that in the midst of this pandemic, the role and contribution of these Allied health professionals are as important as that of the nurses and midwives.
We believe that these other essential health workers are equally important and must be absorbed into the system to give these people who have been trained in this country to also contribute their quota to help to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. We would be grateful if the following questions could be considered: who identifies suspected cases and who does trace of contacts of the suspected cases? This is the work of the Disease Control Officers and the Filed Technicians. Who tests and confirms the suspected cases for the doctors to announce to the general public? This is the work of the Medical Laboratory Scientists. Who educates the general public on the need to adhere to the preventive protocols outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Ministry of Health (MoH) and Ghana Health Service (GHS)? This is the work of the Health Promotion Officers. It has been proven that adequate nutrition is the sure way of improving upon one’s immune system which is a sure way to help the body fight against the COVID-19 virus.
Who educates the population on foods which can help in this regard? This is the work of the Nutrition Officers. Moreover, in these times of COVID-19, statistics and records about the number of persons who visit our health facilities, cases, suspected cases, death and death rate, and recovery and recovery rate, and any other relevant records is very important as it informs the policymakers to make prudent decisions to help combat the pandemic. This is the work of the Health Records Officers and the Health Information Officers. It is shocking that we have One Thousand, One Hundred and Eighty-Two (1,182) of these professionally trained health workers in this country whose knowledge, skills and expertise are being wasted away in their homes during this critical time. It is high time they are provided with jobs to serve dutifully in this time of COVID-19. We therefore ask that these health workers are recruited with immediate effect to enable them to render services to the good people of Ghana, especially in this difficult time.
Again, we were greatly astonished upon seeing the earlier stated release by the Ministry of Health indicating the recruitment of some categories of nurses. This is the first time diploma nurses are being processed for posting without Registered Nurse Assistant Clinical (RNAC) and Registered Nurse Assistant Preventive (RNAP). The 2017 batch of this category of nurses whose colleagues in other areas of nursing are being processed for postings. We are in awe as we consider what is happening this year. More to the point, there are Seven Thousand, Six Hundred and Sixty-Three (7,663) nurses who have been denied trainee allowance in the course of their training and have been left to waste three (3) years of their lives after training in their homes without jobs. Just when we thought the window of job opportunity was opened for them to be absorbed into the health system to enable them to serve mother Ghana with the skills they acquired three years ago in the public nursing Colleges across the length and breadth of the country under the subsidy of the Government of Ghana, their colleagues who completed with them in the same year are being processed for absorption leaving them behind. Is this not pathetic?
Finally, One Thousand Three Hundred And Eighty (1,380) Allied health personnel currently doing their mandatory National service in various health institutions in the country have not been paid their due allowances for the past eight (8) months they have been serving the country. Their colleagues who are non-health Ministry of Health-sponsored National Service personnel, have received their due allowances to date. When questions were asked about this, they were told that this has been the practice over the years. We wish to state that the fact that it has been so over the years does not make it right. It only means that someone is not doing his or her work well. Why should a group of young people who just left school and have been made to travel to places where they have to rent rooms, feed themselves, and find means to transport themselves to work to serve their country be made to go through the torture of going to bed hungry, not being able to pay their rent and utility bills nor pay for transport fares to work? This is a great deal of torture but they have been silent on this for eight months now believing that they were going to hear some good news. However, from the look of things, it looks like nothing is being done and nothing is being communicated to them.
These difficult situations some of our members are going through prompted us to write to release. We hope that in the next few days, we shall receive the good news of processes facilitated to rectify all these anomalies to release our members of the unpleasant situations they find themselves.
We shall, however, have no other choice than to speak in the language that politicians understand in times of difficulty faced by citizens; the language of a peaceful demonstration right after the lockdown ban is lifted in the major cities of Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi and Tamale.
God bless our nation Ghana as we battle COVID – 19 together.
Moses N. Bondong
The Honourable Minister for Health; Hon. Kwaku Agyemang Manu
Office of the President
Allied Health Professions Council
Nursing and Midwifery Council
Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association
All Media houses