Is this shocking? No. Is this news? I think it’s not. This is what was reported by myjoyonline.com: “Northern Regional Health Service has bemoaned the unwillingness of doctors to accept posting to the region after no doctor chose to serve in any of the health centres under the Ghana Health Service (GHS).
"They were given the opportunity to choose where they would like to go to and it happened that no doctor chose the Northern Region," he said at a consultative meeting with the Health Minister, Kweku Agyeman Manu. The doctor to patient ratio in the north stands at one doctor to 51,000 patients”.
This is dead news as far as I’m concerned. This is a recurring problem from time immemorial and we all know about it. In fact, as part of the solution, that is one of the strongest points for siting a medical school in the north.
Amidst fanfare, we were told that their training was going to be so-community-based so that they would all, upon graduation, remain in the northern sector to help bridge the doctor/patient ratio.
Why is it so difficult to get doctors, particularly the University of Development Studies (UDS)-trained doctors, to remain in the north? Aren’t there people being paid to do this simple job of ensuring that one of the aims of setting up this medical school in the north is achieved?
Typical of us as a nation, we are excellent at enacting laws and setting down rules and regulations but legendarily poor at their implementation.
If indeed there is a clause binding UDS-trained doctors to serve in the north for some years as part of the original aim of setting up the medical school, then someone is not doing his job in ensuring that they fulfill this laudable requirement. But again, the monumental failure of this policyand lack of patriotism in us.
Many, if not most, of the latest breed of doctors are our own children, including the officials who should ensure the implementation of this policy and because we want our children in the major cities down south, we conveniently ignore our own rules. And of course, nothing ever happens to serve as a deterrent.
Let’s face it, doctors have always been posted to the north and other rural areas. Sometimes they turn up to ‘show their faces’ and disappear down south to do locum while still being paid by the GHS.
The best way to solve this problem is what the Director General of the GHS has suggested and this is something I’ve been advocating over the years, including once in the Daily Graphic.
Why are newly qualified doctors who have completed their two years compulsory housemanship still sitting at home or going round begging for locum in private hospitals when there are numerous hospitals over the entire country crying for doctors?
Source: Andrew Kaminta/Daily Graphic
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