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Doctors' strike 500 die in 17 days - HISPAG

500 people have died due to the strike by the Ghana Medical Association

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Data compiled by the Health Insurance Service Providers Association of Ghana (HISPAG) has revealed that 500 people have died nationwide since public sector doctors declared a strike on July 30, 2015 to demand conditions of service.

It is believed that many of the dead could have been saved as they died while being transported from one hospital to the other.

The number of deaths is believed to be higher than the 500 because many deaths, especially in rural communities, are said not to be reported.

A report by the Finder Newspaper stated that many of the dead could have been saved as they died while being transported from one hospital to the other.

Reported deaths from the Brong Ahafo Region alone amount to 47 as of the time of filing this report yesterday.

The Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and 37 Military Hospital in Accra have also recorded 10 and 19 deaths respectively.

The situation has been aggravated by the shortage of essential drugs at HISPAG facilities due to a $12.5 million debt owed them by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIS).

The money covers services provided to National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) subscribers by HISPAG members for the past six months, but the members have not been reimbursed.

Mr Frank Richard Thorblu, Executive Secretary of HISPAG, told The Finder that the group held an emergency meeting on Saturday and the unanimous decision was to appeal to government to immediately pay them the $12.5 million debt, as well as order essential drugs to be flown into the country while also buying from local manufacturers to save lives.

He said HISPAG is saddened by the death of Ghanaians and is doing everything possible to save lives, but government’s failure to reimburse them for services provided is making this difficult for them.

Meanwhile, government has pulled out of conditions of service negotiations with striking members of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA).

According to Employment and Labour Relations minister Haruna Iddrisu, negotiations cannot continue while the doctors are on an illegal strike.

“Government will continue negotiations with the GMA only if they call off their strike action and come back to the negotiation table for us to dialogue further on putting closure to the whole subject of getting them a codified condition of service.

“But so long as they remain on strike, boycotting work whether partial or full and not resigning puts us in a difficulty in continuing negotiations”, he added.

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