With my high regards for education as the backbone of development I am calling on the striking Doctors in Ghana not only to return to work but also to let us review their situation together with the Truth, to prevent future misunderstandings and bitterness that could be impediments in their occupation.
With their level of education I trust that they will appreciate the adage “The chain is as strong as its weakest link”. The deprived Ghanaians are invariably the potential trouble-makers that can make living a hell for both the rich and the poor if not considered. Let us therefore not help create monsters that we will spend our lifetime as a nation fighting to subdue.
Doctors spend many years in formal education so have to be remunerated proportionately; a doctorate degree holder in other professional programs in the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Ghana for example deserves to earn equivalent remuneration anywhere they work by the Single Spine Salary Structure policy.
How strictly do we go on this number of years factoring in the employment environment? Until recently a first or second degree student in KNUST must have spent four and two years respectively whereas others do this in three to one years respectively but the difference is almost never applied.
The initial claim that Doctors were seeking conditions of service as if they never had one since they were employed is unfortunate; because seeking an enhanced service condition, which is the case here, is different. By the way was it not the medical professionals themselves who opted out of civil service when their over-enhanced remuneration in 2004 or so, set theirs beyond other workers’, Haven’t nurses threatened to leave Ghana for Dubai and the UK in search of better working conditions and salaries?
The Ghanaian practice that has workers go on strike and continue drawing their salaries should stop, because it is immoral and is making workers’ strikes unfairly exciting and profitable. In the advanced economies that we emulate, it is their unions that pay the workers till the strike ends.
If the services of the medical workers was that essential then it is about time they were prohibited from strikes like the security services.
The unacceptably unfair remuneration of politicians should have been condemned collectively by all professionals including and particularly our doctors, because of their high education. It is rather wrong for any group to attempt getting similar unfair remuneration; let us note that politicians are not professionals per se, so comparison should have been with other professional, but undoubtedly they are the primus inter paris so far and have no compare.
Demanding between 80 and 100 gallons of fuel monthly inter alia, when almost all of them live within the hospital premises just because of their comparison politicians who have to tour the whole nation as a duty, is not reasonable and is in bad faith. The other demands are reported as:
“The proposal wants doctors to be entitled to 40% of basic salaries as accommodation allowance per month, 20% as core duty facilitation allowance, 30% clothing allowance, 20% maintenance allowance, 20% utility allowance, 50% as professional allowance and 25 special risk allowance and vehicle tax exemption to doctors.
They are also demanding for the increase in gallons of petrol provided to the doctors, see more here.
With up to 70% of the national GDP paying about 10% of the population recently and leaving the rest for all other developmental projects, Doctors should know that this is not the way Ghana as a fresh graduate of HIPC can be run to develop or even stay afloat. Allowing politicians who have made pull-him-down part of their dirty politics to encourage them should not excite them as learned and professional compatriots.
In Ghana where people seem to pamper the sick and the dead, it is not surprising that Doctors will become the most essential of all professionals. Any high civilisation would choose to educate the people appropriately about essentials of life so that morbidity would be kept at a minimum in order to abide by the adage that “Prevention is better than cure”.
With all their present remuneration and conditions of service, including their 24-hour on-call allowances, many are those who still engage in part-time work in private hospitals (locum). Some even do their private practice in the same government hospitals with government facilities and resources. A Hot 93.9Fm program in Ghana with Otwinoko recently featured an interview with a nurse who revealed how a gynaecologist is making private earnings of between GHS 3,000 and 5,000 daily from abortions at an Accra government hospital!
As to the bitterness about the Doctors’ leaked proposal, it should not be a big deal since expenditure from the Consolidated Fund should be known by our Parliament and the public subsequently, just as those of the Executive and Parliamentarians are public information.
For good practices in democracy the deliberations on remunerations of these Article 71 Office workers should have taken public views into consideration, there must be serious look into avenues that could be used to secure a longer term solution that is fair to All parties because in the end, it is the average Ghanaian that suffers.
With their reviewed position that their demand for enhanced service conditions is not expected for this year, it is reasonable that Doctors return to work immediately and continue negotiation, for in fact they are so far the most pampered of government workers.
Their alternative of insisting on taking what they want because they have the sick and dying as a bargaining chip is rather unfair. Ghana, your children are watching now!
May God/Allah help us all!
Source: Kwabena Ofori-Panin