“We are on our knees begging the striking doctors and appealing to them to go to work whilst we continue with negotiations, pleaded Ato Sarpong, a deputy Minister of Communications.
Mr. Sarpong made the appeal when the ministry of health took its turn at the weekly Meet-the-Press series in Accra yesterday.
Earlier, addressing a cross section of journalists in Accra, Health Minister, Alex Segbefia, stated that striking public sector doctors could face severe sanctions from government if they do not resume work by Thursday, August 20.
According to him, all public sector doctors who do not report to work on Thursday will be considered to have violated the Labour Act.
“Effect Thursday, August 20, all members of the GMA who have not reported and assumed full duty shall be considered as being on strike and in clear breach of the Labour Act.
“Heads of facilities are also requested to provide me weekly updates of which health workers are working,” Mr. Segefia told the crowded press confernce.
He added: “There are some reports of threats and some intimidation of doctors who wish to work. This is their rights and any such act is a criminal offence,” he added.
Ghanaian doctors are on an indefinite strike over government’s inability to agree on their conditions of service. They have given the government two more weeks to address their concerns or be faced with a complete withdrawal of their services from public hospitals.
On government efforts to mitigate the effects of the strike, Mr. Segbefia disclosed that 177 Cuban doctors are heading to Ghana to assist in healthcare delivery, adding that there were already other Cuban doctors who are currently in the country and have completed their rotation and will be retained “in order to reduce the pressure in quasi-government hospitals.”
“As we work to protect lives and restore normalcy, we are also retaining all the Cuban doctors who have completed their rotation and were programmed to leave for Cuba,” Mr. Segbefia stressed.
He also told the journalists that some retired doctors have also agreed to return to work.
The government has described the strike as “illegal” and has pulled out of negotiation because it insists it cannot be “coerced” to heed the doctors’ demands.
However, the minister has appealed to the striking medical practitioners to return to the wards because “we cannot just go and fix a document and give to the doctors, it must go through a process, so stop the strike action and let us negotiate”.
The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) is on strike over their conditions of service. They have threatened to resign if the government failed to see to their demands.