Doctors’ strike: Don’t sacrifice lives on altar of uncaring gov’t – CPP

The Convention People’s Party (CPP) has joined a host of others to appeal to the aggrieved and striking doctors to return to work since patients have been at the receiving end of their action.

Public sector doctors have hanged their stethoscopes over the past two weeks over their conditions of service. They plan resigning en masse Friday, August 14 but have served notice they will review their decision at a General Assembly of the Ghana Medical Association on the same day.

Both government and the GMA have taken entrenched positions as they accuse each other of bad faith in the negotiation process.

The CPP has condemned government officials for leaking the doctors’ proposals for negotiations, but has pleaded with the doctors to go back and save lives.

“The CPP is appealing to doctors to return to work in order to save lives. These lives and the future of this country cannot be sacrificed on the altar of uncaring or incompetent ministers or government officials,” a statement from the oldest political party in Ghana said.

Below is the full statement:

Ghana is gripped in a health crisis as doctors have been on strike for nearly a fortnight now over their conditions of service.

We have lost lives in the process. Patients in public hospitals across the country have had their ailments and illness unattended to. Police and military hospitals are reeling under the intense pressure, unable to handle the additional number of cases as more people turn to them as a result of the strike. Out-patient departments at Korle-Bu and other major hospitals across the country are closed. There has been a withdrawal of OPD as well as emergency services and doctors are now threatening to resign en masse.

The strike is unfortunate and highly avoidable and the situation can be squarely laid at the doorsteps of Government and its agents for their policy decisions, unguided utterances and the use of vitriolic languages in response to the strike; a phenomenon which is still on-going.

The government must be reminded of its duty to serve the people of Ghana, especially the masses and stop attempting to solve the crisis in the media.

It is becoming obvious that the NDC Government is not adequately prepared to address the serious issues in the health sector and the public sector generally and have therefore resorted to the blame game and using their agents in the media to attack and accuse people who are critical of their approach to development. This behaviour of shifting blame is synonymous with NDC governance. Its officials must stop leaking details of negotiation in the press to seek to damage the image of our doctors.

The citizens of this country have a right to a health service and it is the responsibility of government to deliver on this right. Instead what we are witnessing is a reduction in government intervention in the social sector in compliance with IMF policy prescriptions that place a cap on labour compensation.

This presents Government with a choice – a budget to serve the people or the subjugation of the people to the budget and financial interest of the IMF? IMF policy prescription is always at variance with and insensitive to the survival and prosperity of the people. The NDC Government has clearly made its choice with its current stance.

The President and his administration must know that, the effect of this strike is not on himself and his ministers but the teething masses of Ghanaians, whose situation generally has worsened under his administration. These are the people who are most affected by the strike of doctors or other public sector workers. This strike is having the greatest impact on the poorest members of our society that depend the most on public services.

We call on government to show leadership by taking bold steps immediately to solve the problems and not the macho stance on offer.

Negotiations between the GMA and the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) must resume as a matter of urgency. The expectation of all Ghanaians is that the process must continue until a solution is found. The tripartite meeting between the government, the

GMA and the FWSC must take place at a suitable venue with amenities where all must commit to stay at the table for as long as it takes to reach agreement. Extraneous influences should not be allowed to impact on the negotiations.

The Doctors’ demands are not unreasonable when their colleagues in the service or juniors in school who have been elevated to the position of Ministers or even lesser positions in government are building mansions and spreading money around in the name of contesting elections. If government officials are entitled to all the benefit of luxury cars, houses, per diem, et al, then why should we begrudge our doctors better conditions of service?

The Convention People’s Party (CPP) and the entire country acknowledge the stressful and demanding nature of the work of our Doctors, which involves sacrifice, long hours of work, under trying conditions and sometimes without regular meals. We also recognize their often dedicated and selfless service to the people of Ghana. We nonetheless believe that the health of the people of this country must be a priority under all circumstances.

The CPP is appealing to doctors to return to work in order to save lives. These lives and the future of this country cannot be sacrificed on the altar of uncaring or incompetent ministers or government officials.

Ghana Must Work Again!

Nii Armah Akomfrah
CPP Director of Communication