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Ghana's health delivery under threat

Mon, 21 May 2007 Source: Statesman

The exodus of health professionals, especially nurses to foreign lands for greener pastures is alarming and has become a major concern to Government, health managers and all Ghanaians.

Ghana continues to use its meager resources to train nurses at the expense of the tax-payer, but majority of them leave the shores of the country shortly after their training and work elsewhere for their own interest.

Currently, there are about 12,000 nurses nursing a population of over 20 million. This negative development compels a Ghanaian nurse to nurse 1,700 patients at a time as against the internationally accepted ratio of 1:10 (one nurse taking care of 10 patients at a time).

Grace Opoku, a Principal Nursing Officer of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital and the Second Vice President of the Greater Accra Registered Nurses' Association raised these concerns on Friday when addressing Korle-Bu nursing students in a day"s seminar and Alumni Home-Coming organised by the Nursing Christian Fellowship.

According to Mrs Opoku, Government needs to improve the service conditions of the health professionals to address the "push and pull" factors that move nurses away from the country.

She told The Statesman that the Ghana Registered Nurses’ Association is in a dialogue with government and all stakeholders to cement a comprehensive salary structure and more friendly working conditions for nurses to curtail their mass exit to the western world.

This she said will ensure that nurses work under satisfactory, safe and healthy conditions and paid a more rational salaries and allowances coupled with good housing and transportation schemes.

To face the challenges of today’s nursing, the Greater Accra Second Vice President of the GRNA said nursing education thereby has changed from certificate courses to diploma, and is even offered at the PhD level.

"The change in the educational structure has also brought specialisation in various fields of nursing such as critical care, ophthalmic nursing and pediatric reproductive health in addition to the traditional courses," she added.

Also speaking on the National Health Insurance Scheme, she hinted that the GRNA has so far trained about 550 nurses across the country to know their roles and responsibilities in order to offer quality services to card bearing patients.

The President of NCF - Korle-Bu, Samuel Yeboah Asare, the brainchild behind the event, confirmed to The Statesman that the focus of holding the seminar was to enlighten nurses both staff and students about the current situation in the profession and the way-forward in order to give holistic care to their clients for a better Ghana.

According to him, the formation of the Alumni group is to help identify and keep members in the fellowship even after leaving school.

To this effect, a 5-member executive team was inaugurated to spearhead the activities of the Alumni. They include Charles Osei, President; Joyce Kuma, Vice President; Felicia Dadzie, Secretary; Julius Noagbe, Organiser and Mavis Amoafoah, Treasurer.

Source: Statesman