The General Secretary of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), Dr. Justice Yankson has expressed his misgivings and concerns about the definitions of who qualifies to be a “frontline health worker”, as defined by the Ministry of Health.
In an interview, he said, “in the last two to three weeks, there was a definition that had a lot of exclusions, and with that as well people have raised concerns. And the trend has been that when these definitions come up, concerns are raised and they are revised”.
On Sunday, June 28, 2020, President Akufo-Addo announced the extension of incentive package for health workers by another three months. Again, he intimated that, “frontline health workers, as defined by the Ministry of Health will continue to receive the additional allowance of fifty percent (50%) of their basic salary per month, i.e. for July, August and September”.
Responding to the categorization of health workers as “front liners”,
Dr. Yankson said, “a lot of workers were not happy about that definition because it carries so many exclusions and it has also not been implemented… that definition was one that meant that every month different returns may have to be submitted because the definition is such that, today you could be defined as a frontline depending on what you do, the next day it could mean that you are not”.
The exclusions which became particularly challenging for beneficiaries, the general secretary explained could be related to people who are probably in COVID treatment center. However, he posits that while some may deal directly with the COVID-19 patient and the entire attendant risks, different people are firsthand exposed to them before they are detained at the COVID centers.
Dr. Yankson said, “it was a bit difficult for some professionals to accept some of the things, and because the reviews have been on, off I don’t even know whether this one has become the final one but if it has, it is actually yet to be implemented”.
The president in his address on June 28,2020 also admitted that the implementation has indeed been inundated with challenges especially with regards to who qualifies as a “frontline health worker”, although he insisted it has been resolved and payment will take effect at the end of June.
However, the Finance Minister when asked about the allotted day for the disbursement of the incentive packages for the “frontline health workers”, did not offer any conclusive date as to when payment will be made.
The general secretary for GMA intimated that, so long as the implementation of the incentive packages haven’t commenced, the idea of incentivizing these health workers could be defeated.
He said, “they haven’t received it, so will you call that a motivation…but like I said as at now nobody has received anything so we are yet to see, maybe if others receive and others don’t get then we can really judge and see whether indeed people are de-motivated at that particular point in time”.