After Last Year’s Fanfare; Hungry Students Boycotting Health Facilities
The Coalition of Allied Health Professionals, has indicated that trainee nurses may be forced to boycott the various health institutions by the end of October, if their accumulated allowances which are in six month arears, are not paid.
This comes after the fanfare in 2017at the Sunyani Nursing and Midwifery College, where the same students were made to sing praise, dance and pour appellations on President Akufo-Addo and Vice-President, Mahamodu Bawumia, for restoring the allowances which were cancelled by the Mahama administration.
The President of the group, Bright Bell in an interview said the trainee nurses, have not been paid their allowances for the past six months.
The Akufo-Addo government in the run-up to the 2016 Presidential elections, promised to restore the teacher and nurses trainee allowances scrapped by the previous government; a promise that was fulfilled in September 2017.
A few months after the initial payment, subsequent allowances have not been forthcoming.
“Our junior colleagues who are also in school and those who are currently doing rotation have also not been paid for over six months now. They are also agitating that by the close of this month if they do not receive the allowances, they will be forced to vacate all the Ministry of Health-sponsored schools and go back home because once their seniors even have challenges in getting jobs, there is no guarantee of job placement for them and there is no need to even keep training,” Bright Bell said.
Mr Bell, also indicated that they are unable to go through a mandatory license renewal, since they have been unemployed for years.
In January 2018, trainee nurses complained about the non-payment of the allowance, but they began receiving the allowances for November and December 2017, after assurances before that month ended.
The Ghana Nurses and Midwives Trainees Association, however, said the delays in the payment must end.
The issue of allowance for trainee nurses became a major campaign point in the 2016 elections after the New Patriotic Party (NPP) promised to restore the payments which were scrapped by the Mahama government.
The government restored the allowances of GH¢400, effective September 2017, with an elaborate ceremony to the joy of the trainee nurses who had complained about the hardships they faced without those funds.
President Akufo-Addo, said an amount of GHc232 million, had been allocated for the stipend, with the health trainees set to receive GHc 400 each month.
The government had last year announced that effective September 2017/2018 academic year, Fifty- Eight Thousand Health training nurses, comprising nurses and midwives, will be paid their allowance of four hundred Ghana cedis (GH¢400.00) per person, for each of the ten months of the academic year.
President Akufo-Addo, had at the Sunyani Nursing and Midwifery College said, “to the professional cynics and skeptics, those who have made an industry out of constantly asking ‘is this policy sustainable?’ I wish to assure them that, with the proper management of our public finances, the nation’s budget can accommodate such an amount.”
“This means government will be spending a total of GH¢232,000,000 for this academic year. The E-Zwich platform will be used to effect payment, as it will ensure convenience, prompt payment, and accountability,” he said.
The President, said the decision taken by him, in the run up to the 2016 elections, to restore the nursing training allowances if he won the election was not mere political rhetoric, campaign talk, and neither was it meant to deceive nursing trainees in order to get their votes.
According to the President, “it was much more than that. We believed, and still believe, that Ghana needs all the nurses and healthcare workers she can get, if the nation is to have a solid, world class healthcare system, and we think it necessary to provide the relevant incentives to make that possible.”
Deploying the cancellation of the allowances, in 2014, President Akufo-Addo asserted that the action brought untold hardships to the thousands of nurses and midwives in the country, who depended on it for their studies and for their welfare.
The cancellation, according to the President, left many trainee nurses demotivated and demoralised.
“By the grace of God, and by the generosity and trust of the Ghanaian people, I am here, today, as President of the Republic, ready to fulfill the pledge we made to you,” he said, to a rousing applause from the packed auditorium of the school.
The implementation of the Free SHS policy, on September 12, 2017, he added, should be an indicator of the fact that leadership is about choices.
“I have chosen to invest in the education and in the future of our young men and women, and I will use the blessings the Almighty has so amply bestowed on us to this end,” he added.
The payment of the allowances, the President noted, would also not have been possible without the prudent management of the economy.
It is the judicious application of resources, he asserted that is heralding the revival of the National Insurance Scheme (NHIS), which has led to the payment of GH¢560 million out of the GH¢1.2 billion debt inherited from the Previous administration.
Government, he added, is committed to paying the balance within the next 12 months, indicating that “in the meantime, payments to service providers in the NHIS are now current, with no arrears being built up.”
“We are going to make our public finances robust again, so we can pay our way in the world, like any self-respecting nation should,” he added.
The President revealed that, within the short space of 9 months, Government has employed some 16,000 qualified young nurses and midwives and other health professionals, who, though qualified, had not found employment over the last few years.
Before the year ends, he assured that additional nurses and midwives will be employed.
“Next year, we plan to employ even more healthcare workers. To your colleagues in private nursing and midwifery training institutions, who have been at home for a number of years, next year our healthcare institutions will begin recruiting them,” he added.
The aim of his government, he stressed, “is to banish the spectre of nurses, midwives and health assistants who are not posted after completion of their courses.”
This comes on the heels of many demonstrations by unemployed nurses and midwives over President Akufo-Addo and Health Minister KwakuAgyeman Manu promises to employ them.
Last year for instance, the leadership of the Association, paid a courtesy call on the President at the Jubilee House where he tasked M Agyeman Manu, to ensure they are placed in the various health facilities.
However, more than a year, the nurses and midwives, are still struggling to get posted. On a few occasions while picketing, they have clashed with the Police.
Last month their counterparts in the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo Regions, gave the government a three-week ultimatum to release their financial clearance and get them posted, else they will storm the Jubilee House with protests.
They said, several engagements have been held between them and the government with numerous promises made to release their financial clearance but government has failed to honour them.
The aggrieved unemployed health workers hit the principal streets of Kumasi on Wednesday, 5 September 2018 to demand their financial clearance.
Hundreds of them wore red arm bands and held placards, some of which read:” Enough of fake promises, Hon. Minister”, “Mr President, we need our financial clearance”, “Post bonded nurses and midwives now!”.
They presented a petition to the government via the Ashanti Regional Minister.
The demonstration was organised and led by the leadership of the Ghana Nurse and Midwife Trainees Association and supported by the Economic Fighters League (EFL).
Presenting the petition was the President of the Ghana Nurse and Midwife Trainees Association, Batiah Semi-Ulah Santi.
The petition was received by Deputy Ashanti Regional Minister, Elizabeth Agyemang on behalf of her boss, Simon Osei-Mensah.