According to Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, Director General of the Ghana Health Service, “out of the 11 doctors we placed in the Upper East, only two have reported, the Upper West, two, Northern Region out of the 12 they needed, we gave them three but nobody has gone there.”
“When we opened the portal for placement in the various districts and regions, Greater Accra was full within 15 minutes, Ashanti, 25 minutes, and for a whole week, Northern Region for instance had not received any application.”
Only 50 per cent of the 150 doctors placed in various regions across the country by the GHS in January this year have assumed duty.
Making the stark revelation at the induction of 106 medical and dental practitioners in Accra on Friday, the DG attributed the phenomenon to failure of doctors to mostly practise in rural areas, a situation that undermined Ghana’s efforts to achieve universal health coverage by 2030.
“It’s not as if there are no jobs, everybody wants to be in Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi. They don’t even want Cape Coast and they all prefer teaching hospitals. Those who have refused to take up the placements are in Accra doing locums (a term used by practitioners engaged in part time jobs in private hospitals),” he lamented.
Dr Nsiah-Asare blamed the situation squarely on parents and guardians, politicians and ‘influential’ people in the society who refuse to allow their children practise away from the major towns and cities.
“I have influential people still knocking on my doors to change placement for their wards or relatives. Parents lead their children to our offices to alter postings with lots of excuses, but if we do not start to address the uneven distribution of health workers notably nurses and doctors to health facilities across the country, then we are heading for a crisis,” he stressed.
In another development, Dr. Frank Ankobea, president of the Ghana medical Association in an interview with Nana Kwabena Ampratwum, host of Silver FM’s Omanbapa show opined that delay of clearance has compelled some doctors to refuse postings to such areas, adding that less or no incentives to the doctors in rural areas may also be a contributing factor.
“Doctors who are posted to the rural and deprived areas are virtually running double homes. That is taking care of their wives/husbands and children, hence there must be a little motivation by the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service but all pleas to them have proved futile,” he revealed.
“A lot of the doctors feel reluctant to go to those areas because they feel that when they are in the urban areas they can at least get extra job to do to help their families. This not withstanding, we have been encouraging our members to accept wherever they are posted to but it is unfortunate are refusing to go,” he added.”