Over 30% of anaesthetists left Ghana for greener pastures - GACRA
The Ghana Association of Certified Registered Anaesthetists (GACRA) reports that over 30% of its members have left the country for greener pastures in 2023.
This worrying trend includes the departure of highly skilled and experienced professionals, creating undue stress for those remaining.
Mr. Nwisangra, President of GACRA, expressed concern during the fifth Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Scientific Conference held in Bolgatanga. The conference theme, "Sustaining the practice of anaesthesia in Ghana amidst the brain drain; policy direction and regulation," highlighted the critical situation.
Mr. Nwisangra warned that the situation could worsen, affecting the practice of anaesthesia in Ghana. He stated, "I am told many, including some present in the conference, have intentions of leaving."
Factors contributing to the exodus include lack of career progression, poor conditions of service, wrongful placement on the Single Spine Salary Scale, lack of a scheme of service, and regulatory challenges.
GACRA estimates that only 1200 Certified Registered Anaesthetists (CRAs) serve over 32 million people in Ghana. This translates to a ratio of 1:26,650.43, highlighting the immense workload on each individual.
Mr. Nwisangra emphasized the crucial role of CRAs in healthcare delivery. Their responsibilities include resuscitation of the sick, injured, critically ill, newborns, and patients in intensive care units. He stressed, "This can only be done by the trained anaesthesia provider, the CRA or the Anesthesiologist, and not any other person. All emergency situations in our health institutions are centered on the Anaesthetist."
Beyond the exodus, Mr. Nwisangra expressed concern about poor working conditions, including lack of accommodation and inadequate equipment. He reported that GACRA had submitted a comprehensive proposal for improved conditions of service to the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC), but negotiations remain delayed. He appealed, "FWSC, the employer, and stakeholders should speed up the process to enable us to have improved conditions of service for the CRA."
The Association further noted a concerning rise in diseases like cancer, kidney problems, and liver cases in Ghana. Research attributes these trends to pollution and contamination of water bodies due to illegal mining, uncontrolled chemical use in agriculture, substance abuse, and high alcohol and drug consumption among the youth. GACRA urged the government to implement stricter controls on illegal mining and hazardous chemical use to protect citizens' health.
Dr. Samuel Kwabena Boagye-Boateng, the Upper East Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service, acknowledged the importance of the conference theme. He expressed concern about the impact of health professional migration on access to quality healthcare, stating, "The migration of anaesthetists and other health professionals to other countries in search of better conditions of service should be a cause of worry for all people living in Ghana. If not checked or minimized, it will affect access to quality health care, which will negatively impact our health status."