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Striking Doctors in Ghana Return to Work

Doctors in the Ghanaian capital Accra have returned to work after being on strike for nearly three weeks over a salary dispute.

Authorities of Ghana's medical sector are relieved doctors decided to go back to work after an 18-day strike. They feared the industry would collapse after the walkout of all health workers, coupled with Ghana's "brain drain' as doctors leave the country for better jobs abroad.

The president of the Ghana Medical Association, Francis Adu-Ababio, says the order is effective immediately.

"We have been at negotiations with our employers, the government for the past three months," he said. "We have reached a point where the national executive council and the leadership [of the Ghana Medical Association] have come to be convinced that, yes indeed, come pay day this month the new salary scheme will kick in, which will mean that the demands we were making will be fulfilled and it is on that basis that I have asked the entire membership, especially those who have been on strike for the past two and a half weeks, to go back to work and this must be with immediate effect."

The junior doctors, or doctors in training, began the strike almost three weeks ago to demand payment of their salaries. Their pay had been in arrears for five months while senior doctors negotiated with the government.

A spokesman for the junior doctors, Hadi Abdallah, said he and his colleagues would not go strike on the salary issue anymore, even if the government does not pay them as promised. He says that doctors in Ghana have bigger issues to focus on.

"In the hospital that I work, that is Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, we do not have what we call risk allowance for doctors," he said. "So if you get a needle sting injury from an HIV patient, that is, you will not be compensated. And they will only give you drugs, the anti-retroviral, which every Ghanaian enjoys. So even as a doctor working in the hospital, I do not have access to free medical care, which is very, very bad."

Meanwhile, members of the Health Workers Group who joined the junior doctors in a strike last Thursday, remain off the job.