President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Saturday urged newly qualified doctors to accept postings to rural communities.
He said young doctors who were posted to rural communities to undertake their housemanship should not to see it as a form of punishment, adding; “The missionary and sacrificial aspect of this noble profession must not be lost on you.”
President Akufo-Addo made the call when he delivered a speech at the 50th Congregation and Fifth Oath Taking and Induction Ceremony of the School of Medical Sciences of the University of Cape Coast.
“The early Ghanaian doctors of legend, the pioneers who built the medical profession such as Charles Easmon, Silas Dodoo, Cornelius Quarcoopome and Felix Konotey-Ahulu, on their return home from qualifying in England, went to work in the rural areas with relish and enthusiasm, at a time when our country was less developed and with fewer infrastructure,” he said.
The President noted that Ghana’s doctor-population ratio, being approximately one doctor to eight thousand patients, was even more lopsided in the rural and deprived communities of the country.
“I do not put all the blame on our medical doctors’ unwillingness to work in these communities. If we have good road networks, and good schools are available around the country and not only in the urban centres, if we have electricity supply in all communities, we would not have to be asking, indeed, insisting that our young doctors go to work in the rural communities,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo acknowledged that once the right conditions were in place, doctors would, then, find well-developed rural communities more attractive to bring up their young families.
He was, however, pleased with the programme instituted by the School of Medical Sciences, under which medical students spend six weeks each year in rural communities in the Central and Eastern regions.
“This is aimed at giving them strong community orientation, and also increasing their awareness of the interrelationship between lifestyle and health. I hope and pray that this enables them to build lifelong and healthy appreciation of the situations in our rural communities, which would stay with them long after they have qualified,” President Akufo-Addo said.
The President said as Ghana trained more doctors to bridge the shortage gap, more must be done to keep them in the country, and not lose them to the advanced economies of this world.
“We will only retain our trained doctors and other professionals when agriculture and industry are thriving, when we have better roads, better communications, better schools, better housing, reliable and cheaper power supply, and better drainage.
“On my part, I am determined to work to help ensure that these improvements we all want in our lives become reality. Until that is done, we have to equip those currently in training and the fresh doctors to do a little more out of the ordinary to bring relief to the present situation,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo urged the young doctors to feel privileged to work amidst the mysteries of life, as well as gain the trust of patients and treat each one with dignity.
He admonished them to listen and give respect to all their colleagues in the healthcare chain – technicians, nurses, clerks, cleaners, et al.
“You will be surrounded by death, but please remain human and do not lose your emotions. People will die, but many will be healed, complications will occur, but make sure you remain true to science, the truth and reason.
“And in doing so, never lose your faith in God. I have no doubt you will continue to discover, as all the great scientists have, the presence of the Omnipotent One in the ordering of the Universe,” the President said.
“Let your Hippocratic Oath be your guide and guard in the discharge of your duties. Your joy and fulfillment should lie in the well-being of your patients,” he said.