On May 19th, junior doctors in Ghana went on strike, demanding the pay guaranteed them by the government. They have not been paid since October 2005. Today they are holding an emergency meeting to determine if they will end their strike. The Ministry of Health is asking them to resume work while the appropriate payments are processed through the various health agencies. Dr. Hadi Abdallah is the spokesperson for the striking doctors. He spoke with Voice of America English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey.
“What prompted this action is the failure of the government to pay salaries of doctors. That’s the newly agreed salaries for the past five months. As at last year and over the past 10 years there was a system which was being used which we called the Additional Duty Allowance (ADHA), which formed three quarters of the income of doctors. But last year the government announced that they were going to cancel this and then replace it with a better package. So as of January salaries stopped coming; the ADHA was stopped. For the junior…doctors that are the house officers, for the past eight months, since October, they’ve not received any money. And they thought they’ve reached their elastic limit. So we met during an emergency meeting and by popular acclamation the doctors decided that they were going on strike as of Friday last week.”
Hadi explained that despite repeated promises the government has failed to keep its word. “We’ve pressed government for our demands and negotiations ended in March. And we were expecting them to implement it on the 8th and we had correspondence with the ministry to that effect. That couldn’t work but then they [government] promised us another date, which I think was the 20th of April, and they could not deliver on that date again. They promised us on the 15th of May that that was the last date and that they are sure they are going to pay. They couldn’t deliver. Then just last week we had another letter from the minister [of health] stating that they were going to pay us the end of the first week of June. Later on the deputy minister also came out with a statement that they were going to pay doctors today. As I speak to you now doctors have not been paid, so again the government has failed.”
He said that some doctors are still working but not taking new cases and that all they expect is for the government to live up to its promises.
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