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GH¢320 Million COVID-19 package expended on health workers— Baffour Awuah

BY: Samuel Duodu
Mr Ignatius Baffour Awuah-Minister of Employment and Labour Relations

The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr Ignatius Baffour Awuah, has said GH¢320 million was expended on health workers as part of the COVID-19 pandemic relief package of the government.

The intervention included the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) on a regular basis, tax exemption and the provision of allowances for frontline health workers.

Those who were directly involved in surveillance, case management, laboratory and other related frontline services also received GH¢10.3 million life insurance package.

Mr Awuah said the reliefs were provided in spite of fiscal constraints on the government to ensure that health sector workers were motivated to discharge their duties diligently to defeat the pandemic.

Conference

This was contained in a speech read on the minister’s behalf by the Chief Labour Officer of the ministry, Mr Eugene Korletey, at the 12th quadrennial national delegates conference of the Health Workers Union (HSWU) of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in Tamale last Friday.

It was on the theme: “Delivering quality public health service in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic: The role of the union”.

Mr Awuah applauded all health workers for their diverse roles in dealing with the pandemic and related issues across the country.

“On behalf of the President and the government, permit me to express gratitude to you for your immense contribution to the fight against COVID-19 and your continuous collaboration towards maintaining a stable labour front,” he said.

Condition of service

The minister said concerted efforts were being made to improve the situation of health personnel and mentioned enhanced job-related allowances, the provision of adequate pension and addressing housing issues of staff as some of the matters that were being dealt with.

Mr Awuah said another area of concern was the involvement of health sector labour unions in the policy development process.

He, therefore, called for the active participation of health sector labour unions in the formulation of health policies, which he said was also in consonance with the spirit of social dialogue.

“Social dialogue is a powerful tool to advance the course of stakeholders. The relative industrial peace in the labour front has been the result of social dialogue,” the minister added.

Hard work

The Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, in a speech read on his behalf by the Deputy Northern Regional Director of Administration of the GHS, Mr Jeremiah Timob, urged the leadership and members of the HSWU to continue to work hard to deliver on their objective of attaining Universal Health Care (UHC) of improving on the health and life expectancy of the people.

The General Secretary of the HSWU, Mr Reynolds Ofosu Tenkorang, commended the government for the efforts made in containing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He called on health professional associations who were threatening to form splinter unions to rescind their decision and rather help build a stronger union front to ensure better working conditions.

For his part, the Deputy General Secretary of the TUC, Mr Joshua Ansah, expressed appreciation to health workers for their dedication and hard work in the midst of the COVID-19.

Earlier in his welcome address, the National Chairman of the HSWU, Mr Zakaria Mohammed, had commended the leadership of the union, both past and present, for their vision and foresight in building the HSWU Pride Hotel in Tamale, where the conference was held.

Elections

The conference elected new leaders to steer the affairs of the association for the next four years.

They are Messrs Zakaria Mohammed, Lloyd Emmanuel Baffoe and Madam Joyce Bondzie Asmah as Chairman, First Vice-chairman and second Vice-chairperson of the HSWU, respectively.

The rest are Mr Franklin Owusu Ansah and Madam Patricia Tweneboah Ofosu as General Secretary and Deputy General Secretary, respectively, while Messrs Godfred Oppong Kwakye and Duut Thompson Minyilia were also elected first and second trustees, in that order.