Doctors have been advised to accept posting to rural areas where their services are needed.
The Minister of Health, Sherry Ayittey, said doctors need to move out and deliver care in the rural communities if they are to make improve the health indices.
Ms. Ayittey gave this advice when she inducted 195 newly-qualified medical and dental practitioners at the College of Physician and Surgeons in Accra.
She said about 52 per cent of qualified doctors are in the Greater Accra Region with an estimate of 78 per cent when the Ashanti, Eastern and Central regions are added.
‘It is sad to state that there are only six Ghanaian doctors serving a population of about a million in the Upper West Region,’ she said.
The health minister also expressed concern about the number of doctors who leave the country to seek greener pastures in other countries, adding that the issue of brain drain is a major concern for government.
She said available statistics indicate that between 1969 and 2012 about 3,200 doctors left the country to seek greener pastures mainly in Europe and United States of America.
Ms Ayittey noted, ‘15,000 nurses have left the country since 1996. It is also estimated that there are about 1500 doctors in New York alone.’
She however commended the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons and the West African Post Graduate Colleges for their role in the retention of health professionals in the country.
‘Because of the well-structured programmes of these colleges, a good number of doctors have, as to date, been attracted to stay and undertake their specializations in Ghana,’ she noted.
She said the ministry will ensure that the needed facilities are provided to make the stay of doctors comfortable in the rural areas, adding that the Tamale Teaching Hospital will be a base for health personnel who will in turn serve the three Northern regions.
‘Should 50 per cent of you doctors inducted today be posted to Tamale Teaching Hospital, for your house job, be assured of good accommodation,’ she assured them.
The sector minister also appealed to doctors to use industrial action as instrument of last resort in settling disputes.
She said leaders of the profession should ensure that skeletal medical staff are placed at all emergency facilities in the hospitals so that very seriously ill patients would receive treatment.
‘I, on my part, would strive towards that uniqueness in meeting your needs and would expect a reciprocal uniqueness in attitude towards clients and tenants of the profession. Remember, competence is a rare commodity in this day and age,’ she emphasized.
Dr. Eric Asamoah, Chairman of the Medical and Dental Council, urged the new doctors to make the care of their patients their top most priority.
He said they must protect and promote the health of patients and the public in the area in which they operate.
He said they are personally accountable for their professional practice and must be prepared to justify their decisions and actions.
By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri