Doctors in Ghana have been on strike since the 8th of October, in response to the failure by Health authorities to meet certain compensation demands by the Ghana Medical Association. A new remuneration system for public workers, known as the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) was instituted in 2006, and while other public workers such as law enforcement offices and teachers have been migrated onto the SSSS, doctors have not, due to standing issues related to the grading system used to calculate the wages of doctors. The doctors contend that, among other things, the formula their labor input fails to account for weekends and public holidays that doctors, unlike other public workers, have to work.
The doctors say that negotiations between them and the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC)--the governmental body responsible for implementing the SSSS--has been a ding-dong affair that has produced no results over the past two years of engagement. To accelerate action on the situation of its members, the GMA sent a directive to all members in public hospitals to stop work until further notice from the GMA.
In response to the medical strike at public health facilties, the government has directed the military and police hospitals at Accra and other major areas in the countries to scale up operations to absorb patients. Realistically, this move, while for a good cause, is only a lame effort: the military and police hospitals can only meet an insignificant fraction of patients who seek treatment from public hospitals and will be stretched to their seams in the coming days. The best solution is to resolve the standing issues with the doctors, restoring full medical services in the country to normal capacity and preventing further loss of lives.
The Ghana government has received flak for its responses to the doctors' demands, which many people actually think are not unfair. Attempts by government to appeal to the patriotic and moral senses of the doctors have failed, naturally. (Some doctors believe government officials and Members of Parliaments, who receive at least $80,000 as ex-gratia, have no right to ask other Ghanaians to sacrifice for the greater good). Finally, the Minister of Health went on leave in the middle of the strike, provoking questions from the public about the government's seriousness about resolving the strike.
Reports indicate that the GMA and FWSC were in a meeting on Monday, October 17th, but no breakthrough was reached at the end of talks. Hopefully, negotiations would continue over this week and eventually produce a lasting detente, averting further loss of lives.