Medical officers posted to Upper East in 2021 refused posting

Medical officers posted to Upper East in 2021 refused posting

Ten medical officers and specialists posted to various health facilities in the Upper East Region last year did not report for work, the Regional Health Directorate has disclosed.

The Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Emmanuel Kofi Dzotsi, who made the disclosure, said it was very worrying that some critical medical staff continued to decline posting to the region, putting undue pressure on health personnel there.

He noted that it was a disturbing development that critical health staff posted to the region felt reluctant to assume duty, compounding an existing challenge of a high attrition rate among health workers.

“The region is perceived as unattractive to health personnel which has made it very difficult to attract critical staff such as doctors, midwives, professional nurses and physician assistants,” Dr Dzotsi said at the 2021 annual performance review of the Upper East Regional Health Services on Wednesday, March 9, 2022.

Review session

The two-day event was on the theme: “Harnessing the contributions of all stakeholders in reducing the high occurrences of maternal deaths in the Upper East Region.

He stated that new medical officers and specialists, including Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, refused postings to the region which had led to the shortage of critical health staff with its attendant consequences on healthcare delivery.

Dr Dzotsi said there was an acute shortage of human resource which was impeding the provision of health care in the region.

As of the end of last year, the region had nine specialist doctors, 42 general medical officers, two dental medical officers and 721 midwives, he disclosed.

A near ideal scenario should be about eight medical officers (Consultants), about 16 dental medical officers; about 140 general medical practitioners and 28 medical specialists.

The number of professional midwives is, however, considered adequate to serve the region effectively.

“The number of critical staff is woefully inadequate to take care of the over 1,318,351 population in the region”.

“I hereby call on all concerned partners and stakeholders to ensure that attractive incentive packages are put in place to attract and retain doctors and midwives, especially to remote communities in the region,” Dr Dzotsi averred.

Maternal mortality

The regional medical director said in spite of the region’s general good performance in the year under review, it was very unfortunate that there had been an increase in maternal mortality over the past two years.

He stated that in 2019, a total of 31 maternal deaths were recorded, which increased slightly to 36 in 2020 and further went up to 43 in 2021, saying “the region is working on several maternal death reducing initiatives and strategies to reduce the trend of maternal mortality.

“It is incumbent upon health authorities, partners and health workers to be more innovative in the implementation of agreed strategies and the judicious use of resources,” he said. “I therefore humbly appeal for partner support in implementing policies aimed at reducing maternal deaths in the region,” he added.

Performance soars

The Upper East Regional Medical Director of Health Services stated that per the 2021 regional assessment report of the region using the holistic tool, the region’s performance saw an increase from 3.2 (a mandatory performing region) in 2020 to 4.0 (a highly performing region) in 2021.

Incentive packages

The Chairman of the Governing Council of the GHS, Dr Sefah Sarpong Badiakoh, said the council would press for the implementation of incentive packages for health workers ready to accept posting to hard-to-reach areas.

He urged health workers to embrace the incentive package and accept responsibility to work and serve in deprived communities to increase healthcare coverage across the country.

“This will go a long way to address disparities in the distribution of healthcare professionals in the country,” Dr Badiakoh stated, and called on local assemblies to support the GHS to keep medical professionals in their localities.

“I wish to appeal to metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) to support the GHS by construction accommodation for health professionals to make them a bit comfortable in areas they are posted to,” the GHS governing board chairman said.

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