GMA calls for implementation of conditions of service

BY: Donald Ato Dapatem
Dr Frank Ankobea, GMA President, addressing the press in Kumasi. With him are Dr Frank Serebour (right), Vice-President of the GMA, and Dr Justice Yankson, the General Secretary
Dr Frank Ankobea, GMA President, addressing the press in Kumasi. With him are Dr Frank Serebour (right), Vice-President of the GMA, and Dr Justice Yankson, the General Secretary

The new executive of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) has threatened to embark on a series of actions that will affect the provision of health services if the government does not fully implement their conditions of service.

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The doctors, who gave an April 2018 ultimatum, said the only thing that would stop their action would be the full implementation of the conditions of service and market premium, together with the related matters of conversion differences and reduced pensions.

Dr Frank Ankobea, who was elected the new president last Saturday, said this to the media in Kumasi.

The new executive include Dr Frank Serebuor, Vice-President;  Dr Justice Yankson, General Secretary, and Dr Titus Beyeo as the Assistant Secretary.

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Dr Ankobea explained that in the ruling of the National Labour Commission following a compulsory arbitration in November 2011, the market premium was made a percentage of the basic salary of the doctors.

According to him, the ruling was implemented for only a year after which the government unilaterally decided to make it a fixed figure contrary to the ruling.

Conditions of Service

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Dr Anookobea recalled an agreement the GMA signed with the government on the conditions of service for medical doctors in October 2015.

He said the implementation of the agreement started in February 2016 was not fully adhered to.

Several attempts by the GMA to get full implementation of the agreement had proved futile, Dr Ankobea stated.

Unemployed doctors

The president pointed out that despite the abysmal doctor-to-patient ratio in the country, with several communities and districts without medical doctors and dentists, a large number of trained and qualified medical practitioners were wasting away at home without employment.

Dr Ankobea said that situation had culminated in some doctors working long hours and without leave, and urged the government to find a swift and lasting solution to the annual excuse of waiting for financial clearance from the Ministry of Finance.

Mental health

Touching on mental health, which was the theme of the annual general meeting, Dr Ankobea said mental health challenges contributed seven per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) loss in Ghana and, together with neurological problems, they contributed to nine per cent Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALY) loss.

DALY is a measure of overall disease burden, expressed as the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death. It was developed in the 1990s as a way of comparing the overall health and life expectancy of different countries.

Dr Ankobea expressed worry that despite these horrifying statistics, mental health continued to receive little or no attention from the state.

He called on the government to provide adequate funding towards mental health in Ghana and ensure that mental health laws were implemented fully.