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More needs to be done to attract health professionals et al to rural areas – GMA

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The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) is urging successive governments to do more to attract health staff to rural areas in the country. 

Dr. Justice Yankson, Vice-President of the GMA said the Association has always pushed for conditions of service to be better, not only for doctors and other health staff, but for all professionals alike. This would allow for more professionals to be available in more deprived areas. 

Answering a question posed by the Member of Parliament for Builsa South, Dr. Clement Apaak, the Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman Manu said the recommendations of the survey are under review for onward action.

“Mr. Speaker, a survey has been conducted to solicit the views of health workers on measures to attract and retain them to work in deprived areas. From the survey, the willingness of health workers to accept posting to any of the deprived areas is based on financial and non-financial incentives.”

“They recommended non-financial incentives such as scholarships, accommodation defined by existing policy, standard medical equipment, and transfer after 3 to 5 years upon request. Again, financial incentives include 34% basic salary as an incentive for mild deprived areas, 38% as basic allowance for moderate deprived areas, and 40% basic salary as incentive allowance for severely deprived areas,” he said. 

When Dr. Yankson spoke on A1 Radio’s Day Break Upper East Show, he mentioned that in times when governments had put deliberate policies in place to support professionals in rural areas, there were more professionals in such areas. 

“We need to do two forms of activities; monetary and non-monetary incentives depending on where you find yourself. You cannot get a one-size fit all. Nobody is saying we should be paid the way others are paid in the US or in other places, no. It is an attractive way to attract and retain,” he said. 

Doctors, as with all other professionals, are not expected, compulsorily, to work with the public sector. They’re allowed to choose among private, public and quasi-private jobs. “It is a choice. Let us not forget that the private sector is competing with the public sector,” he said. 

Because of the absence of a legal binding contract that compels doctors to work with the public sector, they are allowed to choose who they work with. The government can only appeal to the consciences of the doctors to work in the public sector. To make a compelling case then, the government must incentivise the health professionals. 

“Strategically, you also put in certain incentives to attract them,” he stressed. 

For non-monetary incentives, Dr. Yankson is suggesting scholarships and quick career progression.

Source: A1radioonline.com|101.1MHz|Mark Kwasi Ahumah Smith|Ghana

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