The Minority New Patriotic Party (NPP), in Parliament has called on the government to, as a matter of urgency, take the necessary steps to meet the demands of the striking doctors halfway to enable them to call off their strike.
“Government must, as a matter of urgency, give the Ghana Medical Association some level of assurance by meeting them halfway on the list of requests, so that they can resume work immediately while negotiations continue,” the group’s Spokesperson on Health, Dr. Richard Anane, said.
Addressing the media yesterday in Accra on the current state of the health sector, he blamed the doctors’ strike on the bizarre manner in which government officials handled the negotiations.
He said the decision by the government negotiators to release the doctors’ proposals from the close-door negotiations in order to pitch the general public against them was unfortunate, shameful, and a breach of faith.
“Unleashing government’s attack dogs and party officers with their trademark acid-tongues on the doctors and paramedics is amateurish governance. It is most pedestrian and amounts to infantile gimmickry,” he said.
Dr. Anane, therefore, urged government to restrain its communicators from making unguided statements on the matter to allow the negotiations to continue, and appealed to the doctors to also resist the temptation to engage in verbal exchanges regardless of the provocation.
According to him, the diatribes, either from the government communicators or the doctors, would not resolve the conflict.
He appealed to the doctors to consider the plight of the citizens and call off the strike for the negotiations to continue.
“It is important to remind the doctors that notwithstanding the weight of their grievances, their strike action is resulting in deaths that could otherwise be prevented. There are cases of working people who now suffer from various ailments which could have been addressed, but who are otherwise excusing themselves from work,” he said.
Dr. Anane noted that there were many sick people who, for lack of medical care, could become permanently disabled and indicated that it was the very poor persons in the society who were bearing the brunt of the strike.
“If and when a solution is found to the impasse, and we sincerely hope it would be soonest, the situations recounted cannot be reversed,” he said, and on behalf of the entire Minority Caucus in Parliament, appealed to the medical officers to rescind their decision and, in the interest of the nation, go back to work.
He called on the government to tell Ghanaians the number of people who had died so far as a result of the impasse.
“Last week in Kenya, when doctors and nurses embarked on strike for five days, 11 people died as a direct result of the strike action and that was enough for the public to get the government to sit down to negotiate with the medics and paramedics,” he said.
According to him, the frequent strikes had brought to the fore, the weakness of the Labour Commission, and stressed the need to strengthen the Commission with competent people to deal with issues brought before it.
By Yaw Kyei