Don’t Hold Innocent Lives To Ransom – Mahama Tells Doctors

The President, John Dramani Mahama, has urged medical doctors not to demand what is legitimately due them at the expense of innocent lives.

He explained that as professional health workers, they had equal opportunities to negotiate for better conditions of service and demand justice, probity and accountability from their national leaders.

Mr Mahama, however, said the demand for justice must be done through harmless tools.

The President made the call in a speech read on his behalf by the Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr Eric Opoku, at the induction of 270 medical doctors into the West African College of Surgeons at the college’s 54th Annual General Conference in Kumasi yesterday.

He explained that most African countries had witnessed an uncountable number of strikes by health professionals which had culminated in the loss of many lives, contrary to their pledge and unwavering commitment to save lives.

“Why, then, do we exchange the very lives we have sworn to protect for better remuneration? Can we employ other harmless tools in our negotiations?” Mr Mahama asked rhetorically.

Dysfunctional Systems

President Mahama called for continuous discussion of the long-standing problem of dysfunctional systems and procedures that were not followed.

He again called for moves to ensure that procedures and systems were not only in place but also functioned effectively for the benefit of the people.

Legal Regime

He hinted that a human rights activist had advocated a public discourse on the exploration of a legal regime that would criminalise strikes by health professionals principally because of their impact on the right to life.

He noted that the issues of ethical behaviour of medical doctors in line with their Hippocratic Oath and the building of healthy relations between governments and professional health groups were essential ingredients that should occupy attention to advocate healthcare delivery in West Africa.

Shortage of Doctors

The President urged medical doctors who were trained with taxpayers’ money in West Africa but had sojourned abroad to come back to their motherland to help address the shortage of doctors.

He wondered why volunteers from other nations were in West Africa to help, while “our own health professionals who are well-trained and qualified have continued to deny our citizens of their valuable services”.

PPP for Infrastructure

President Mahama said governments in the sub-region could not, on their own, provide all the infrastructure needs in the health sector and called for the exploration of public-private partnerships (PPPs) as an option to make up for the deficit.

He also said to ensure value for money, there should be proper regulation of the PPPs.

President of WACS

The President of the West African College of Surgeons, Prof. H. K. Yangni-Angate, called for the adoption of good attitudes and the mastering of knowledge because without them doctors would not be able to achieve excellence.

He added that a surgeon without theoretical knowledge and proper behaviour would not be considered a competent medical practitioner.

He said good health was the bottom line of the medical profession and urged doctors to work assiduously to provide their people with good health.