General News of Sunday, 22 January 2017
The Ministry of Health (MoH) has denied instructing principals of nursing training institutions to reduce the number of students they admit for the 2017/18 academic year by 40 per cent.
According to the ministry, a letter making the rounds on social media that the ministry had issued that directive lacked credibility, as no such decision had been taken regarding the admissions for the academic year.
The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the ministry, Mr Tony Goodman, however, told the Daily Graphic that prospective students of Nursing Training Colleges (NTCs) would not be required to purchase application forms manually, as had been the case over the years.
“Admission process will begin either by the end of February or the early part of March. When it begins, principals of NTCs will be required to put in requests of their admission capacity, which will be subject to approval by the minister of health. The process has not begun,” he said.
Mr Goodman added that when the exercise is due, the ministry would advertise it in the newspapers.
When asked whether the MoH had any plans to reduce the intake of students to the nursing training institutions, he declined to give a categorical answer, saying that would come up only when the process got underway.
Even though the authenticity of the directive has been downplayed by the MoH, the issues surrounding the decision by the previous administration to cancel the nursing trainee allowances make it one of public interest.
While the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government supported the cancellation of the allowance and removed the intake quota that inhibited large admission of students, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), which is now in government, opposed that position.
The NPP said it would restore the allowances if it assumed the reins of power, as it thought the limited intake was grounds for an acute shortage of health personnel, especially in the rural areas.
One major challenge that was envisaged if the allowances were restored had to do with sources of funding for the increased number of students in NTCs.
After loosening the knot on the quota system, enrolment in nursing and teacher training institutions reportedly increased by some 500 per cent.
The situation means that more funds ought to be committed to the payment of the allowances which is currently pegged at around GH¢400 a student per month.