Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the Minister of Health, has given a hint of the Government’s intentions to soon announce the development of a new policy to absorb the cost of postgraduate training of doctors.
He said presently the cost of postgraduate training at the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons was borne by the doctors themselves, but the Government had realised that it could lose control over them, should it continue to allow specialisation training to be borne by these professional groups.
He said this was because they could then be selective in choosing courses to serve their own interests and certainly go for those that would quickly fetch them money, leaving other areas still deprived.
Mr Agyeman-Manu, who gave the hint in an address at the launch of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) 60th Anniversary launch in Accra, said the intervention was, therefore, to address concerns raised by the GMA regarding the fact that some of its members were unable to upgrade their professional skills as a result of the cost involved.
He said the GMA had earlier stated that it was important for the Government to sponsor doctors to at least the postgraduate level to grant them the needed solid professional footing to enable them to have control over skills specialisation as well as the holistic operations of health practitioners.
Mr Agyeman-Manu said the existing situation where specialisation costs were borne by doctors had accounted partly for the refusal of most specialists to accept postings to rural areas, so as to remain in the cities to recoup their investment in training.
He, however, congratulated the GMA for the numerous achievements over the past 60 years and encouraged its members to support the Government to invest a little bit more in the sector to ensure quality health care delivery and attain Universal Health Coverage.
The event, which was on the theme: “The Role of the GMA in Healthcare: 60 Years On,” called for effective partnership among institutions to address the health needs of Ghanaians.
It attracted dignitaries including Dr Kwame Addo Kufuor, a former Minister for Defence and current Board Chair of SSNIT, Professor Agyemang-Badu Akosah, a former Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, as well as some Fellows, past presidents, Committee and Executive Council members.
Professor Akosah, delivering the Anniversary Lecture on the “Achievements of the GMA over the past 60 years,” said the Association had come a long way, and paid its dues to national development as an advocate, partner and an important labour union.
Giving a brief history, he said the establishment of the GMA, as the first professional association to be formed in jubilant post independent Ghana, was a great landmark in medical history and had remained credible.
He cited its influential roles in health administration and care delivery in the country through several initiatives, innovations and interventions.
These include the establishment of the medical training schools, instituting postgraduate courses, conducting medical research and policy formulation, its role in the development of the National Health Insurance Scheme, Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS), establishment of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and instituting a Codified Conditions of Service for its members.
Prof. Akosah said: “The intentions of the GMA are genuine, looking after the educational needs of its members, as well as the national aspirations.”
He, however, challenged the GMA to move from its present comfort zone to develop and vigorously mount a nationwide campaign on preventive health to arrest the rising incidence of Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) among Ghanaians.
He further called for teamwork among the doctors and other health professionals, urging them to open up to the people and encourage effective patronage of health facilities as a panacea for addressing most preventable illnesses.
Prof. Akosah said the failure to attain those would mean that the vacuum created would be filled by quack drug peddlers and mobile hawkers, because the professionals were so distant from the people, leading to various health complications and deaths resulting from drug abuses and self-medication.
He urged the members to also support the Government to align the Primary Healthcare Concept and become gatekeepers to the teaching hospitals to achieve Universal Health Coverage in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.
Meanwhile Dr Addo Kufour has proposed a 30 per cent pay increase for medical practitioners who were posted to rural areas to serve as an incentive.