By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
He is right on the money, when Mr. Alexander Percival Segbefia says that in any civilized country, the doctors’ strike would not have gone beyond 24 hours or a day. What the Health Minister conveniently fails to add, however, is that no civilized country’s President or Prime Minister would have appointed a former Crown Prosecutor with no professional specialty in healthcare policy, or medical training, his/her Health Minister. And so the real question to ask is not whether the membership of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) has any remarkable sense of civility or concern for human life and dignity, but rather whether the President who appointed a professional square-peg like Mr. Segbefia as his Health Minister has any flair for or sense of what it takes to run a civilized country (See “‘Doctors Don’t Strike Beyond 24 Hrs In Civilized Societies'” Atinkafmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 8/11/15).
Throughout the impasse between the Mahama-led government of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the Ghana Medical Association, the government has condescendingly sought to portray itself as the self-righteous underdog, while our woefully underpaid and under-appreciated doctors have been made to seem like the ungrateful and greedy products of the sweat and toil of the Ghanaian taxpayer. Indeed, it was in brazen and dogged pursuit of such jaded trend of cynical thinking when Mr. Segbefia made the following remark recently: “We are appealing to the doctors to rescind their decision and go back [to work] while negotiations continue. Whatever government may or may not have done has not cost any life, but the actions of you doctors have cost several lives.”
No trend of thinking could be more preposterous. I am not even going to discuss the deliberate underfunding of the country’s healthcare system by government operatives like Messrs. John Dramani Mahama and Segbefia who can afford to fly out of the country at just about anytime that they choose for medical checkups and comprehensive treatments in technologically advanced polities like South Africa, Britain, France, Germany and the United States. What is also interesting to note here is that the former Atta-Mills Deputy Chief of Staff was smack among the team of self-serving NDC apparatchiks that callously decided that Ghana was not yet ripe for the establishment of a National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). Now this is very depraved of him, because Mr. Segbefia had enjoyed the best of medical services at little or no cost in England, where he once served as a public prosecutor.
He is also inexcusably a pathological liar, when the Health Minister smugly asserts that President Mahama and his minions were in no way intent on unduly dragging out negotiations with the GMA, at the very same time that he clearly seems to be staunchly in favor of what may be aptly termed as the systematically calculated war-of-attrition by the Flagstaff House Abongo Boys against the striking membership of the GMA. To the latter effect, Mr. Segbefia recently told an Accra radio station program host that the government was absolutely in no hurry to negotiate any mutually acceptable conditions of service with the striking doctors, because “negotiations of this nature have a lasting impact on health delivery in this country.”
Precisely what kind of impact the stiff-necked Health Minister has in mind is best known to himself, as he was not willing to even publicly hint at the nature of the same. He also claims that the government has put forward a counter-proposal to the demands of the GMA leadership, but he would not let on any details of such proposal. What is clear here, however, is that the country may be mired in this medical industrial action for sometime to come, since President Mahama has already led the charge against the striking doctors by emphatically indicating that his government would on no account back down, even at the cost of him losing Election 2016, to satisfy the terms of the conditions of service being demanded by members and sympathizers of the Ghana Medical Association.
Already, Mr. Haruna Iddrisu, the discredited Labor Minister, his master’s degree was revoked by the academic council of the country’s flagship academy, the University of Ghana, on grounds of pliagiarism, has declared that the striking doctors would shortly feel the pinch of an economic vise that he intends to clamp around their necks.
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York