WHO advocates safety of health workers

BY: Rebecca Quaicoe Duho & Faith Ayorkor Mensah
The newly qualified allied health graduates swearing an oath at the ceremony.  Picture: ESTHER ADJEI
The newly qualified allied health graduates swearing an oath at the ceremony. Picture: ESTHER ADJEI

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called on governments and healthcare leaders to address persistent threats to the health and safety of health workers and patients.

According to the WHO, “no country, hospital or clinic can keep its patients safe unless it keeps its health workers safe”.

The WHO Country Representative in Ghana, Dr Francis Kasolo, made the call at the ninth induction and oath-swearing ceremony for newly qualified health graduates organised by the Allied Health Professions Council (AHPC).

The ceremony was on the theme: “Effective management of COVID-19: The role of the allied health professional”.

Dr Kasolo said the COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted the extent to which protecting health workers was key to ensuring a functioning health system and a functioning society.

Quoting the WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in his recent address to the global community, in which he said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded all of us of the vital role health workers play to relieve suffering and save lives,” Dr Kosolo said over the years the WHO had collaborated effectively with allied health professionals through the provision of Standard Operating Procedures, guidance documents, as well as hands-on support during field visits and monitoring.

Unregistered and unlicensed members

He said the world had, over the past 20 months, been responding to the COVID-19 pandemic that had claimed the lives of over five million people globally, saying the response had been led by, among others, allied health professionals who constituted a large proportion of the health workforce globally and in Ghana in particular.

He said the fundamental role those professionals played in the health delivery system, including the COVID-19 response, notwithstanding, there were still unlicensed activities by some practitioners which had contributed to sub-standard services, saying that posed a big threat to the health delivery system in Ghana.

The WHO Country Representative, therefore, encouraged the AHPC to collaborate with the relevant agencies to stem the activities of these illegal members to guarantee public health and the safety of the citizenry, as well as ensure excellence in the practice of allied health workers.

He pledged the WHO’s unflinching support to the AHPC and the Ministry of Health in general for the successful delivery of their mandates.

He also thanked all healthcare professionals for their hard work, thoughtfulness and commitment during the challenging times of the COVID-19.

The Chief Director of the Ministry of Health, Mr Kwabena Boadu Oku-Afari, who represented the sector Minister, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, said the government was committed to developing the allied health profession and providing highest standards for it.

He said the MoH had, for the past two years, secured financial clearance for over 6,000 health workers, saying that would help relieve the situation of unemployment in that area.

He appealed to health professionals to resort to dialogue whenever they had a problem, instead of embarking on strikes, saying in the long run they would still come to the dialogue table.

He appealed to newly qualified doctors to accept posting to the rural areas, so that “those whose sweat and toil made them to be educated can also benefit from their services”.

Allied Health

The Registrar of the AHPC, Dr Samuel Yaw Opoku, in a welcome address, said the MoH had provided employment for over 5,000 allied health professionals over the past two years.

He announced that currently the list of the 2020 batch of inducted allied health professionals had been presented to the ministry for financial clearance.

He said hitherto, allied health graduates had to face long periods of unemployment after internship and expressed gratitude to the government for rectifying the situation.

Internship

He said the newly inducted professionals would undergo a 12-month internship programme, starting from November 15, 2021 to October 30, 2022, after which they would write the council’s professional and licensure examination, and advised the graduands that passing the examination was a pre-requisite for permanent registration and licensing.

Challenges

Dr Opoku said one major challenge that hampered the development of allied health professionals was the lack of an allied health college.

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