The government has urged the Medical and Dental Council, Ghana (MDCG) to address the increasing allegations of unprofessional conduct by healthcare professionals.
Among the allegations are clinical negligence, poor professional attitude and inhumane treatment of patients.
The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, who raised the government’s concern, said equally worrying was the matter of some practitioners providing services outside their areas of competency.
Speaking at the opening of a two-day medical training and practice conference organised by the MDCG in Accra yesterday, the Vice-President further said there were concerns about the significant number of healthcare professionals who abused substances or worked under the influence of substances, including chronic alcoholism, or suffered from infirmities of the mind.
“All these things may call into question their fitness for practice, yet experience from the MDCG shows that majority of these professionals had challenges during their undergraduate training, and that early identification of impairment and interventions are associated with better outcomes,” he added.
The conference, which also marked the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the council, was on the theme: “Medical and dental training and practice in Ghana: The past, present and future”.
In attendance were present and past board members of the council, the Presidential Advisor on Health, Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare; chairpersons of health sector agency boards, vice-chancellors and registrars of universities, provosts of the colleges of Health Sciences; past and present deans of Medical and Dental schools and faculty members.
Others were the President of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) and representatives from the Surgeons Foundation of North America, the Dental Council of Nigeria, the Health Professions Council of South Africa and the Medical and Dental councils of The Gambia, Nigeria and Kenya.
Dr Bawumia expressed the hope that the conference would, among other outcomes, explore ways to leverage technology and strategic partnerships to expand training and enhance service delivery, as well as promote health-related research.
He was happy that the council was defining clear boundaries so that the various categories of practitioners would know the limit to their practice in the interest of patients’ safety and well-being.
“I understand that some policy document and a specialist register, practitioners’ stamp, name tag and appropriate professional apparel, as well as scope of practice for physician assistants, were recently launched to address some of these issues of concern,” the Vice-President said.
Dr Bawumia said the government was improving access with the introduction of the Agenda 111 projects where 111 hospitals were to be constructed, including psychiatric hospitals, across the country.
He said action was being taken on improving on the operations of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), a step which had allowed the NHIS to expand the scope of its services to include childhood cancers, thereby removing the lack of money as a critical barrier to life-saving healthcare services.
“We are also seeing quality healthcare services through the establishment of the Quality Management Unit at the Ministry of Health.
The National Ambulance Service is now fit for purpose with the implementation of the One Constituency, One Ambulance policy,” Dr Bawumia said.
The Vice-President further said the government had embarked on networking of all hospitals, clinics and Community Health Planning and Services (CHPS) compounds.
Already, he said, the regional and teaching hospitals had been networked.
On quality assurance and health professional regulation, Vice-President said: “We are also seeking investment in healthcare regulation to enhance both professional regulation through quality assurance system and development and institutional accountability.”
He mentioned a $15.2-million facility from the World Bank which was approved by the government through the Ministry of Health in June 2020, explaining that the funding support would be the single largest investment in medical professional regulation since independence.
Chairman of the MDCG, Professor Paul Kwame Nyame, said the council was aware of many qualified students not being able to gain admission to the medical schools in the country but indicated that the situation was not peculiar to the country.
He cautioned potential medical and dental students against being lured into “not-fit-for-purpose” schools abroad, many of which, he said, produced half-baked professionals.