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Monday, May 17, 2021

Gov’t responds to complaints over new allowance for doctors

By Tabora Bojang

The Ministry of Health has responded to complaints by Nurses and Midwives’ Association over the controversial increase of allowances for doctors and PhD holders, saying contrary to their beliefs, it wasn’t meant to discriminate but start a better allowance system for all healthcare workers. 

The increment payable to medical doctors and PhD holders at the central level of the Ministry of Health was announced by the government last month to attract highly qualified medical doctors to work at the Ministry.

But the association of nurses and midwives in their reaction to the government said the increase is discriminatory and demotivating to junior health care workers who are the frontliners and continue to experience inappropriate working conditions and low salaries.

However, in a letter seen by The Standard, the Ministry responded: “The management would like to inform your membership that the relevant allowance approved for few doctors and PhD holders does not discriminate against the nurses. In fact, it is structured in such a way that all cadres will benefit. As a matter of fact, it should be understood that the composition of the target beneficiaries of the approved allowance is quite diverse and includes 5 medical doctors and 7 allied health professionals with PhD. These include nurses, public health officers, and laboratory scientists. In the case of the affected doctors, the allowance aims at restoring as close as possible to what the individual was getting before being posted to a program area. Contrary to what some people are made to believe, the Ministry emphasizes that this is not for medical doctors leaving other cadres out.”

The Ministry further argued that in case of the PhD holders, the increment is meant to encourage them to stay in the ministry.

It also urged the complaining nurses to “exercise calm” as “management is concerned about their welfare and has been taking steps to address” them through the relevant stakeholders. 

“Prior to the receipt of your correspondence, the minister had been in consultation with his colleague Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs in looking at alternative ways of addressing staff motivation given that the 2021 budget has already been passed. The two ministers have tasked the senior management to work on a proposal in consultation with PS of Finance and PMO in working out a solution with regard to allowances with a view of covering all relevant cadre that needs to be considered,” the Ministry stated.

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