President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says ” the frontline health worker” in the context of COVID-19 containment must be clearly defined to identify the actual beneficiaries of government’s tax breaks and incentives for health care workers.
He noted that judging from the angst and contentions emanating from some groupings in the healthcare system who have insisted that general healthcare workers should benefit from the package because they all were exposed to equal risk, called for a distinction and definition of who a “frontline” health worker was.
In a meeting with representatives of health workers and allied sector personnel at the Jubilee House, Accra on Wednesday, President Akufo-Addo said the arguments being espoused by some categories of health personnel showed that some were most exposed to risk than others, which suggested that indeed there were frontline workers in the system.
He stated emphatically that the package was not to de-motivate any class of health workers, but was a recognition of ‘graduated risk’ in the risk structure in the health system, adding that it was an attempt to isolate the people who had the greatest exposure to COVID-19 infected persons.
However, the President assured that all shades of opinion would be taken into account, saying, “ the special arrangements that are being made for health workers, all of it is within the objective of ensuring that you feel reasonably protected, reasonably secured to be able to go out and give off your best.”
“It would be excellent if all the demands or wishes that you have could all be met. It won’t be, but we will do our best to meet the essential ones and that is what we are trying to do.”
President Akufo-Addo further assured that the government would make good its promise to provide all the essential logistics, including Personal Protective Equipment to all health workers, and indicated that the shortfall in PPE’s would be bridged by the local production.
Representatives of Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association, Pharmaceuticals Society of Ghana, Allied Health Professionals, Ghana Association of Certified Registered Anesthetics and the Ghana Physician Assistants Association took part in the meeting.
The President in his fifth national address to give an update on the measures to contain the spread of novel COVID-19 coronavirus announced a three-month tax break on the emoluments of health workers beginning April 2020.
In addition, all frontline health workers are to receive an additional allowance of 50 percent of their basic monthly salary for March, April, May, and June, as well as transportation to and from work during the pandemic.
The President further announced an insurance package with an assured sum of GHc350,000.00 for each health personnel and allied professionals at the forefront of the fight against the virus.
Those announcements sparked some level of discontent amongst some class of health workers who felt they had been left out of the incentive.