Dr Kwame Addo Kufuor has appealed to Ghanaian doctors to render selfless and competent medical services and respect the dignity and rights of patients.
Dr Addo Kufuor made the appeal when he chaired the launch of the 60th anniversary of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA). He noted, “It is my hope and prayer that members of the association, in the years ahead, will strive to serve patients with competence, compassion, integrity and patriotism.”
He asked Ghanaian doctors to be reminded of the cardinal principle of the American Medical Association that “a physician shall be dedicated to providing competent medical care with compassion and respect for human dignity and rights”.
Dr Addo Kufuor, who is a past president of the GMA, said the theme for the celebration, “The role of the Medical Association in health care-60 years on”, was appropriate and in accord with the mission of the GMA to ensure the availability and accessibility of quality health care for all the people.
He, however, noted that “beyond availability and accessibility, the medical fraternity must emphasise compassion and respect for the right and dignity of patients, which must be extended to the relations of patients.
The GMA was inaugurated on January 4, 1958 by Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah.
Dr Addo Kufuor, who served in several cabinet ministerial positions under President John Agyekum Kufuor and is currently the Chairman of the Board of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), said as a past president and member of the GMA since 1971, he could testify to the contributions and achievements of Ghanaian doctors towards healthcare delivery in the country, as well as complaints from patients against some doctors.
He said the GMA played a leading role in the process towards the replacement of the cash and carry system with the health insurance system and had been instrumental in prosecuting policies and programmes such as the fights against HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Cholera, ebola, Tuberculosis as well as road safety, environmental sanitation and illegal mining.
Ghana College of Physicians
Dr Addo Kufuor said the establishment of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons was a major collaboration between the GMA and the Kufuor Administration and had helped provide world- class medical training which had helped to reduce the medical brain drain.
He commended Ghanaian doctors for their sacrifices which gave meaning to the oath they took when they were inducted into the profession, and paid homage to those who continued to serve the people of this country saying “I salute doctors who have shown selfless dedication to duty, turned their backs on lucrative offers abroad to serve their compatriots, doctors who over the years in spite of the rather difficult conditions of service, have given their all in the service of the nation.”
GMA and doctors
Dr Addo Kufuor, however, appealed to the GMA and the doctors not to discount some of the complaints made against them by patients such as accusations that some doctors were “unfriendly, intolerant, discriminatory, impatient, disrespectful and do not give proper and adequate attention to patients”, whilst others were seen as being influenced by financial considerations in the performance of their duties.
Patients must show oppreciation
Dr Addo Kufuor equally appealed to patients to be appreciative of the efforts of doctors, most of whom were overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of patients they attended to daily, and to have patience to wait for their turn when doctors devote considerable time to attend to patients they consider to require special care.