Comment: A country where Guinea fowls are valued more than doctors

General News of Friday, 12 April 2013

Source: Akilu Sayibu

Doctor Pix

Nobody is enthused that our doctors are on strike. I support appeals to the doctors to rescind their decision and return to the wards. They should disregard the unprofessional way the government of Dumsor Mahama is handling them.

There is something we all have to come to terms with; the doctors did not just wake up one early morning after breakfast and decided to hold patients hostage through embarking on their strike.

The strike became their last option after attempts by all agencies that were expected to listen and discuss the issues with the doctors became hostile and started communicating in insulting manner. That is why we have found ourselves at this level.

With all humility, I am willing to organise a one day workshop for government communicators on how to communicate during crisis free of charge. In crisis management, you don’t insult, slant or try to twist the facts on the table. We do what is known as soothing communication. That is where government failed.

Government communicated as if the doctor’s strike was criminal, unnecessary and not even impacting well. As an escape, government communicators led by my Ordinary level classmate, Mahama Ayariga, were suggesting to patients to go to private health facilities for their health care.

Aside the unprofessional communication, government’s indiscretion in certain expenditure also provided oxygen for the strike. The doctors made it known that discussions about their grievances started even before the December 7 controversial elections.

Evidence abound that the government at the time it was telling the doctors that there was no money, was able to allegedly use 320 bllion old Ghana cedis to plant trees which we are now told were consumed by bush fires. The government also used 150 billion old Ghana cedis allegedly to fund a guinea fowl project under SADA.

Are we inferring that guinea fowls and mahogany trees are top on our scale of preference than settling doctors’ grievances to get them to stay in the wards to treat all of us? Does this make any civilised sense? The people even need to be alive to plant the trees and or rear the guinea fowls!

The issue is not about the ability of the government to contain the strike. It is about finding a lasting solution to it. You don’t find lasting solution to a problem through propaganda and insults. People are dying and who should we blame? The doctors who are on strike or the government who failed to curb the strike in the first place?

I have a suggestion for government; they should first of all move away quickly from the propaganda and secondly move to appeal to the doctors to return to the wards in the name of humanity and service to the nation. Let the doctors understand that, there was an initial misunderstanding of the issues by all the parties involved and the time has come for all to make some sacrifices for the sake of the poor victims of their strike.

If I were the Information Minister, I would have even silently made respected religious leaders in the country appeal to the doctors even before things got to this stage.

In times of crisis, government communicators must befriend the media and even try to influence what is published or aired in the media. It is all part of the solution. What should be aired should always be one to calm tempers but not one to show who has a sharp tongue and can speak the Queen’s language. Dear doctors, we appreciate why you went on the avoidable strike.

As Ghanaians, we share in your concerns but we are begging you to in the name of God return to the wards while a lasting solution is sought to your grievances. That’s my personable appeal to the doctors.

I am done, bye for now.