Strengthening the healthcare delivery system is essential to achieving Universal Health Coverage to meet our aspirations under the Sustainable Development Goal 3 that relates to good health and well-being of people.
Ghana has made significant progress in the health sector, reflecting in life expectancy that hovers around 63 years.
Apart from providing health infrastructure, the government is also making efforts to cater for the needs and improve the working conditions of doctors, nurses and other health professionals.
In spite of these gains, more needs to be done to improve healthcare delivery, especially child health and maternal mortality.
This is to boost the morale of health professionals, especially nurses, and put them in the right frame of mind to be able to render services to patients.
Just as doctors take a Hippocratic Oath, nurses also make a pledge to do their best for their patients, called the Florence Nightingale Pledge, often administered at graduation ceremonies. We entreat them to continue to do their best, despite the challenges.
Indeed, for some time now, the health sector has experienced industrial peace, and it is our wish that everything possible is done to sustain the situation.
We are, however, worried that it appears an industrial dispute is rearing its ugly head, with the decision by nurses at the Damongo Government Hospital in the West Gonja District of the Savannah Region, to embark on strike.
Their action is to press home their demand for unpaid allowances, denial of study leave and other management issues.
Last Monday, scores of patients, who went to the hospital to seek medical attention, returned home without receiving any care, because the nurses were on strike.
The reason for the nurses to lay down their tools is in a statement signed by the chairman of the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association, Alhaji Abdul- Karim Issah, as reported in Tuesday, July 2, 2019, issue of the Ghanaian Times.
It indicated among others that “An agreement was reached between us and the management of the hospital for a 10 per cent basic salary allowances due us starting on January, 2019, but they failed to pay us.”
The nurses also accused the hospital management of not promoting them,
and called for the removal of the hospital administrator and the matron of the hospital, claiming the two were responsible for the predicament of the health facility.
The importance of the Damongo Government Hospital as a referral health facility for a number of districts in the newly created region, cannot be ignored.
We plead with hospital authorities and nurses to revisit the agreement and iron out challenges making it impossible for the terms of the accord to be carried through.
This is an issue that both parties should be able to amicably resolve, so that the striking nurses can resume work to continue with the valuable services being rendered to the nation.
Already, some health professionals have made enough sacrifice by accepting postings to the rural areas, they deserve better if not special treatment, to motivate them work harder.
The Ghanaian Times pleads with the striking nurses to rescind their decision and go back to work, and attend to patients and avoid the loss of lives.
We urge the hospital authorities to listen to the nurses, and give them the desired attention, to prevent the situation from escalating.