THE Ghana Medical Association has stated that doctors are not against doing national service.
It said even though getting doctors to perform national service could work if planned well, the decision by the National Service Secretariat to enrol doctors in the National Service Scheme (NSS) next year was not technically feasible.
Dr Kwabena Opoku-Adusei, the National Vice-President of the GMA, told the Daily Graphic yesterday that a number of “burning issues” must be addressed before doctors could be asked to undertake national service.
He, therefore, described the decision, which was announced by the Executive Director of the NSS secretariat, as “just an academic and political exercise”.
“I believe it is an attempt to get doctors to work in the rural areas, but that is not the right path to take,” he said.
Dr Opoku-Adusei pointed out that the nation needed to look at the unequal distribution of doctors in the country and solve it before it reached crisis point instead of thinking that national service was the solution.
“National service will neither solve the problem of unequal distribution of doctors nor any other problem facing doctors, and I challenge the authorities to come clear,” he said.
Dr Opoku-Adusei indicated that the question of whether the national service should he undertaken before or after housemanship needed to be addressed.
Besides, it should also be clear as to where the new doctors would serve.
“If they are to serve in health institutions, would they get the right supervision?” he asked.
Dr Opoku-Adusei said what should be noted was that national service could not be mandatory after housemanship because after housemanship, one fully received his or licence to operate as a doctor.
The GMA vice-president expressed regret that suggestions sent to the government on how to get doctors accept postings to the northern parts of the country and in other deprived areas had not received any positive response.
He said, for instance, that there was the need for the reintroduction of duty facilitation allowance to get doctors to accept postings to deprived areas.
Again, he noted that many institutions outside government had been able to maintain their doctors because they provided them the opportunity to undertake postgraduate programmes. “Regrettably, this is not what we see in the public sector.”
The GMA vice-president called for the institution of specialist outreach services to make up for the lack of specialist services in deprived areas.
“I’ve done it before as an obstetrician gynaecologist and I believe that if it is well planned and funded, it will achieve results,” he said.