Hoping to limit damage, Ghana to bring in 177 Cuban doctors as strike cripples hospitals

Medical services are reeling from a strike by medics who are demanding housing, clothing and fuel allowances for senior staff.

GHANA has said it will bring in 177 new doctors from Cuba to help limit the damage from a crippling strike by medics over pay and training.

Some 2,800 public sector doctors began withdrawing services to out-patient departments early this month before extending the strike to emergency wards.

“We were in the process of bringing in 177 doctors and this process is ongoing,” Ghana’s Health Minister Alex Segbefia told a news conference late Tuesday.

“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 any time soon.”

Thousands of Cuban doctors and health workers are stationed in countries in Africa and Latin America under government-to-government contracts that have become an important source of hard currency as well as diplomatic good will.

“We have a long standing arrangement with Cuba and other countries where doctors from these countries are brought in every year to augment the numbers of doctors we have in Ghana to help in healthcare delivery,” Segbefia said.

The minister added that some of the new doctors would be deployed to specialist teaching hospitals where the strike “is felt more”.

The striking doctors are demanding housing, clothing and fuel allowances for senior staff, as well as company cars.

They also want higher overtime pay, free post-graduate medical education, better pensions and free foreign healthcare when the treatment is not available in Ghana.

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