Exodus in health sector will hurt nation — Prof. Owusu-Dabo

The prevailing trend of exodus of health workers, if not checked, would have serious repercussions on the provision of quality health care in the country.


For instance, last year, about 4,000 nurses left the shores of the country to Europe and America in search of better opportunities, the Pro Vice-Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Prof. Ellis Owusu-Dabo, has observed.

“Without equivocation, one of the challenges the health sector will face in the next decade is the shortage of essential health workers,” he added. Already, Prof. Owusu-Dabo said there was an unequal distribution of health workers, particularly specialist medical staff in the country, and that the current situation would exacerbate the plight of those already at a disadvantage.

This was contained in a speech read on his behalf by the Dean of the School of Medical Sciences of KNUST, Prof. Akwasi Antwi Kusi, at the 33rd Annual General Congress of the Ghana Dental Association (GDA) in Kumasi, Ashanti Region.

It was on the theme: “Strengthening the GDA: All inclusive membership for tomorrow’s success.”

Prof. Owusu-Dabo further said that there was an uneven distribution of medical doctors in the country, especially dentists, majority of whom were working in the southern part of country.

“It is estimated that about 70 to 80 per cent of dentists are clustered in the southern part of the country, mainly Accra and Kumasi, while the remaining 20 per cent are distributed across the northern sector.

“This leaves thousands of people without access to professional care services, especially in rural and peri-urban Ghana,” he added. As of 2022, there were a total of 570 dentists for a population of 31 million people — a ratio of one dentist to 58,400 people.

This falls below the World Health Organisation’s recommendation of a dentist for every 7,500 people.

Prof. Owusu-Dabo said the prevailing situation had far-reaching implications for the nation’s attainment of universal access to health care by 2030, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

He, therefore, called for collaboration among all stakeholders to help reverse the trend, saying “multi-sectorial partnership would provide exponential impact in our collective action”.

“Inter-professional collaborative practices have proven to decrease total patient complications, medical errors and overall mortality rate,” Prof. Owusu-Dabo added.


The Minister of Health, Dr Bernard Okoe Boye, said there was the need for teaching hospitals to collaborate with the Ghana Health Service and come up with an agreement where consultants at the hospitals would be allowed to do clinicals at rural or peri-urban areas periodically.

He said it should be possible for specialists to extend their services to other areas in the country that lacked their expertise. The minister said all district hospitals being built under the Agenda 111 project had provision for dental units to extend care to the communities.

Fake dentists concern

The President of the association, Dr (Dent.) Cecilia Kakrabah Quarshie, expressed concerns about the invasion of the profession by quack practitioners. “Dentistry is being increasingly practised in unqualified settings such as hairdressing and barber salons and so-called aesthetic centres.

“Dentistry is a noble profession deeply rooted and steep in medicine and science and should not be trivialised as mere fashion statement because implications of these unregulated practices are alarming,” she said.

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