The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) has given government a one week ultimatum to address issues regarding the conditions of service of doctors and dentists to avert withdrawal of services at public hospitals in the country.
This was contained in a communique issued by the GMA in Tamale on Sunday and signed by its President and General Secretary, Dr Frank Ankobea, and Dr Justice Yankson, respectively at the end of its 61st Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Tamale from November 05 to 10th.
Members of the GMA, who attended the AGM, extensively deliberated on the conference theme: “The Health of Prisoners and other Vulnerable Groups in Ghana: The Realities and Expectations”.
The communique said “A one-week window is hereby offered government, that is, if by 18hrs GMT on November 17, the Conditions of Service Document for Medical Doctors and Dentists working with the Ministry of Health (MoH) and its agencies has not been signed off for implementation effective January 01, 2020, the following set of activities shall kick start.”
“Effective Monday, November 18, 2019, all medical doctors and dentists working in the public sector shall withdraw outpatient department services. This will continue until Sunday, December 01, 2019”.
It said “From Monday, December 02, 2019, to Sunday, December 08, 2019, all emergency services shall be withdrawn”.
It added that “From Monday, December 09, 2019, all services shall be totally withdrawn”.
It will be recalled that the GMA and government in September, 2015, signed the Conditions of Service Document for Doctors and Dentists working in the MoH and its agencies, and the implementation date for this document was effective January 01, 2016 to December 31, 2018.
The communique said “prior to the expiration of this document, the GMA engaged government with the view to renew the document but to no avail. Post December 31, 2018, the GMA is dissatisfied with the progress so far made” hence, the intended action.
The communique also touched on the theme of the AGM saying “There is currently a crisis situation in Ghana’s prisons that impacts negatively on the general welfare of prisoners especially their health”.
It spoke about overcrowding at the prisons, the fact that 82 per cent of inmates were below 35 years, and the public health threats emanating from the prisons including overcrowding, high-risk sexual behaviours, drug abuse, poor diet and hygiene, infections and substandard health care.
It called for a national conference on the health of prisoners and other vulnerable groups with the involvement of all key stakeholders to address the welfare of prisoners in the country.
It said “The state has a duty of care to prisoners and same must be met at all times. Government must ensure that there is a holistic and comprehensive health care delivery for prisoners at all levels, better resourcing of the Ghana Prisons Service and improvement of infrastructure in our prisons”.
Meanwhile, the GMA during the AGM also elected eight-member new executives to steer its affairs for the next two years. They included Dr Frank Ankobea, President, Dr Frank Serebour, Vice President, Dr Justice Yankson, General Secretary and Dr Titus Beyuo, Assistant General Secretary.