The constant and tiresome run around for the retroactive payment of stipends and allowances for our nurse and teacher trainees ought to creatively inspire the government to devise profitable and productive ways of making our allied health services worthwhile professions in the country (See “Delayed Allowances: Trainee Nurses Threaten to Boycott Class[es]” CitiNewsRoom.com / Modernghana.com 10/4/18). The government and the leaders of the allied health professions in the Philippines, Cuba and elsewhere have been doing this for decades, if not generations. I am talking about the practical possibility of having some of our best trained nurses, and others in the allied health professions, contractually shipped abroad for service and/or practice in countries in dire need of these critical services as a means of achieving two significant objectives, namely, professional or job satisfaction and revenue to enable the government to financially support our nurse trainees as well as other specialist trainees in the allied health professions. This will necessitate the introduction of foreign language acquisition as an integral part of our allied health professions.
This would also necessitate the establishment of a foundation or a fund into which such contractual revenue would be paid for the exclusive benefit of trainees in the allied health services, as well as for the development of these professions in the country. It would consequently imply the need for the government to heavily invest in our healthcare industry. Indeed, it was for the foregoing reasons that I staunchly backed the Military Cooperation Agreement that was recently struck between the Akufo-Addo-led government of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the United States, whereby first-rate health facilities were to be established by the Pentagon in the country. These medical facilities could also be used to train a remarkable percentage of our allied health services personnel for both services in the country and abroad. It goes without saying that the current process of one-way financial traffic, whereby the government does all the giving and receives virtually nothing worthwhile in return does not augur well for both the steady and continuous development of the allied health professions in the country.
We also have to be frank in pointing out that the perennial and protracted problem of nonpayment of allowances for our nurse trainees, and our teacher trainees as well, is beginning to make the decision by the erstwhile Mahama-led regime of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) seem like the most responsible policy response to have been implemented. But, of course, we all know that former President John Dramani Mahama and his kleptocratic cabinet appointees abrogated the nurse- and teacher-trainee allowances so as to free more loot for the criminal payment of double salaries to cabinet appointees who also “served” as Members of Parliament. Electioneering campaign promises aside, it makes perfect sense for our nurse- and teacher-trainees to be paid stipends or allowances, even while in training they are also made to offer “rotational services” to some of the various hospitals and clinics dotted all across the country, in much the same way that our National Service Personnel are paid allowances and stipends, in spite of the fact that these nurses and teachers are also trained at the expense of the Ghanaian taxpayer.
Agreements could also be initialed with other African or regional governments to ensure that the problem of surplus production of our allied health professionals is constructively and lucratively eased up.
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By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
October 4, 2018