Doctors defend planned strike; Say public must hold govt

BY: Michael Quaye
president of the Ghana Medical Association, Dr Frank Ankobea
president of the Ghana Medical Association, Dr Frank Ankobea

Doctors have defended their intended strike over outstanding emoluments, arguing that they are not insensitive.

Rather, they say the public must hold government to its social contracts with the people, including medical professionals.

In an interview last Saturday moments after their news conference on the intended strike, president of the Ghana Medical Association, Dr Frank Ankobea, said doctors were normal employees who deserved decent treatment by their employers.

“We are employees. We cannot continue to be cheated by the employer like that,” Dr Ankobea said.

The doctors have threatened to withdraw outpatient services in public facilities from Monday, August 6 unless government honoured various outstanding issues related benefits.

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With a membership of about 7,000, strikes by medical doctors have come with irreversible consequences, including deaths.

But Dr Ankobea said the doctors had shown enough patience, and that the public must rather question government for the situation.

‘We are also humans’

“Remember (that) we go to the same market with everybody. Remember we are also humans,” he said.

“But it is appearing that governments can only listen to one thing. It is when you withdraw your service that government will listen to you.

“It is unfortunate. For me, I think the public has a social contract with government, and so they should demand from government, and not from us.

“We think that what we are demanding is a genuine cause, so they (the public) should not be angry at us.”

In November 2017, the doctors gave government an ultimatum that expired on April 30, 2018 to honour its obligation to members of the GMA.

Dr Ankobea said the doctors had shown commitment to play according to the rules, and that it is government which has failed to honour its word.

“As we speak now, it has been three months since April 30, so we think government is also not serious, they have not been fair to us.

“The issues with the market premium dates back to 2013. We have sat down with them on several occasions.

“We, as leaders, were mandated by our members to do these negotiations on their behalf way back in 2017.
Members angry

“Our membership are angry… that they even expected something to happen by April 30. But we pleaded with them that this is what we are doing.