Despite the many seemingly positive interventions made by the Ghana government led by H.E. President Nana Akufo-Addo to combat the spread of the notoriously stubborn novel coronavirus that has unexpectedly taken the world and our country by storm, there appears to be agitation within and among a large group of qualified and licensed allied health professionals who have been left out of the recruitment exercise scheduled to begin on April 14, 2020, through to May 15, 2020.
The process is to allow some qualified and licensed nurses and midwives who completed their program of study in 2017 and have been given financial clearance by the Ministry of Finance to be recruited into the Ghana Health Service. It came as a big surprise to their colleague Allied Health professionals who meet such requirements or criteria but have been denied financial clearance.
All fingers are not the same in length and width but when they are bent all stands equal. All fingers are not the same in length and width but each uninjured finger plays a significantly crucial role to make the hand function best in the work it does. By virtue of the distinctive individual and collective roles, they play in a healthcare setting, Allied Health professionals form an integral part of healthcare delivery system and so are nurses and midwives and any other group of healthcare givers.
Ghana recorded its first confirmed COVID-19 case on March 12, 2020, and as at April 11, 2020, one month after the first confirmed case, Ghana’s case count stood at 408 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 8 deaths and 4 recoveries. If this is not alarming, I do not know what else is! We’re told a total of 27,346 persons have so far been tested. It is expected that in the next couple of days, we will be contact tracing and testing double, triple or quadruple the number of 27,346 persons that have already undergone testing.
It is in the light of this and many others that certified licensed allied health professionals should not idle about. They will only not idle about, if and only if, the government decides to put them to good use in a timely manner in this critical moment by giving them permanent posting. They should not idle about because a large category of them are needed for contact tracing whilst others are needed for other equally important assignments. And I’m pretty sure everyone knows what contact tracing means and its importance in the fight against the novel coronavirus in our country.
It is interesting to note that prior to the issuance of the latest financial clearance by the Finance Ministry which captures the 2017 batch of nurses and midwives but leaves their colleague allied health professionals to their fate, some 560 of these allied health professionals were already helping in contact tracing.
One would have thought that this good gesture of patriotism from them will have been the basis upon which government would facilitate processes in their permanent posting, so a much greater number of them will be used to achieve timely contact tracing and testing thereby helping in containing the community spread of this dangerous COVID-19. No! One will be wrong to think like this because leadership think otherwise!
This action from the government has not only angered these zealous healthcare givers willing to die for their country in the line of duty, it has in uncertain terms brought the fight against COVID-19 to a temporal halt and has reduced the pace at which the health ministry was moving in contact tracing.
Why? Because these 560 allied health professionals have withdrawn their services and you do not think this has implications? In this difficult moment in our country’s medical history, are we supposed to be retrogressing, static or progressing in our contact tracing?
Admittedly, President Nana Akufo-Addo’s administration has rolled out many great interventions in the fight against COVID-19 and he needs commendation for this. However, the problem has to do with late or wrong timing of some of these interventions. Borders have been locked; great intervention, late timing: partial lockdown; great intervention, late timing. When the timing is late and wrong, the results may not be satisfactory. I fear this is about repeating itself in the case of these allied health professionals.
Agreeably, these allied health professionals will someday be posted by government but timeliness is of the essence and must be put into consideration. In the face of COVID-19 pandemic, many countries the world over have beefed up their healthcare system with human resources without delay. The government should and must post all allied health professionals who are due posting. And they must see that as a priority in this critical moment of COVID-19 pandemic.
The practicing health workers need them on board to lessen the burden. Our country needs them. We all need them.
The writer, Edward Etse Aloryito is a Health Tutor and Physician Assistant.