Please don’t leave us for greener pastures!
On Saturday, October 29, 2022, 461 newly qualified medical and dental officers were inducted into the Medical and Dental Council (MDC) of Ghana at the Accra International Conference Centre.
They were products of the University of Ghana, Legon, Accra; Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi; the University for Development Studies (UDS), Tamale and medical/dental officers trained overseas.
The Vice-Chancellor of KNUST and a large number of dignitaries from other universities graced the occasion.
In her address, a point passionately made by the chairperson and member of the board, Dr Constance Addo-Yobo, and re-echoed by the guest of honour, is the title of this article: “Please don’t leave us for greener pastures!”
The new doctors were also told not to refuse postings to the districts, as going there afforded them the opportunity to learn fast while being of service to those who needed their services the most.
A quote attributed to the minister of Health in the Wednesday, June 16, 2021 issue of the Daily Guide states: “Doctor-population ratio (in Ghana) improved consistently over the last five years (2016-2020) from 1: 9,301 to 1: 6,355. However, this improvement falls short of the WHO standard of 1: 1,000.”
On February 25, 2022, the Ghana News Agency (GNA) stated that, “The doctor-patient ratio keeps widening in the Northern Region as statistics from the Ghana Health Service shows doctor-patient ratio in the region has increased from 1: 8,859 in 2020 to 1: 10,901 in 2021.”
On August 5, 2022, the Ghanaian Times stated, “The doctor-patient ratio in Bono East has worsened from 1: 18,287 in 2020 to 1: 20,2021, Dr Fred Adomako-Boateng, the Bono East Regional Director of Health Services, has revealed!”
With these rather alarming statistics, is it any wonder that the chairperson, herself a health practitioner, appealed to the young doctors not to leave Ghana for greener pasture for countries which already have very good doctor-patient ratios of around 1: 400?
In 2011, while on duty outside Ghana, my “manager”, in a telephone chat with me, said, “Dan, you will return home to meet a new son in our house.”
The new son I met on my arrival was Fiifi, a Junior Secondary School (JSS) One pupil of the Services Primary School, Burma Camp. Fiifi’s parents lived at Kasoa. The daily commute with his mother who works at Burma Camp was taking its toll on Fiifi.
This was when the Kaneshie-Kasoa road was being reconstructed.
Arriving home late, they had to get up around 4 a.m. to get ready for the journey to Burma Camp, often arriving late.
It was on that basis that that my “manager”, who worked in the same office with Fiifi’s mother, decided that he could come and live with us at Burma Camp.
After his secondary education at Mfantsipim School, Fiifi was admitted to KNUST as a medical student.
He was one of the 461 medical/dental doctors inducted into the MDC on October 29, 2022.
For their induction, each new doctor was allowed only one invited guest into the conference centre for the ceremony. So even for parents, only one was allowed inside.
All other relations waited on the lawns outside. Fiifi was graduating with a Rwandese friend, whose parents could not fly down. Fiifi’s father, thus, had two tickets.
The couple decided the second ticket would come to me. All my protestations that the ticket should go to Fiifi’s mother as a parent were overruled.
Their decision was that the two men would support Fiifi and his Rwandese friend in the conference hall, while the ladies waited outside for us.
The highlight of the induction was when all the doctors wore their white coats with their names proudly embossed on their chests and took the Hippocratic Oath.
There was a 15-minute dancing session, where the auditorium became a dance floor for everyone.
While I endorse the call by the chairperson for the young doctors to accept postings to the districts, I recalled my November 2016 article titled, “From Ghana? Why did Dr Serebour send you here?”
This was a question asked a colleague when he went overseas for a heart surgery in the hospital Dr Serebour of the Cardiothoracic Centre, Korle Bu, trained. On his return home, he told Dr Serebour about the incident. Yes, the doctor confirmed and explained that much as the skills to perform the surgery were and are available in Ghana, the equipment to do so was unavailable, hence the referral overseas!
Doctors have complained after helplessly seeing patients die needlessly because of lack of equipment, and they are forced to leave the country because those who should care, do not. They don’t because they can be flown outside for the best of care in the best of hospitals!
In any case, who would want to serve where in addition to rudimentary water or electricity supply, good schools for their children are unavailable 65 years after independence?
For our rulers, again remember the quote by President Kennedy that, “If a civilised society cannot take care of the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”
To Drs Fiifi, Akosua, Julius and their colleagues who took the Hippocratic Oath on Saturday, October 29, 2022, congratulations!
Your induction into the MDC, Ghana is only the beginning of a long career ahead! Remember, people will come to you only when they are unwell and at their lowest.
Be principled doctors and treat your patients with dignity, respect and humility!
Leadership, lead! Fellow Ghanaians, wake up!
The writer is former CEO, African Peace Support Trainers Association, Nairobi, Kenya & Council Chairman, Family Health University College, Accra. E-mail: