Whereas there are many private hospitals in Accra and Kumasi (and some other bigger towns) that attend to patients during these strikes, many districts in Ghana are lucky to have one district hospital serving large geographical areas and populations. So what happens? The leaders of these health workers that call for these strikes can send their relatives to private hospitals but the common health worker in the remote community, apart from all the disparities, is more likely to lose a relative if the strike action goes on as planned.
Sure, I sometimes support these strike actions. Sometimes it doesn't make sense how employers treat employees, and when they do not even listen to recognised mediators, the only way to let them do the right thing is through a strike action.
At the same time, having worked in the district setting for close to two decades, I realise there should be a fine balance. Sometimes we offer solidarity to the association, and lag behind those in the cities by about a week, withdrawing services for elective cases (but seeing urgent cases and emergencies) as we work towards total withdrawal of services if those who can solve the problem decide not to act. Many times those who can solve the problem are in Accra (or Kumasi) and have access to private hospitals where they can go or send their relatives to when it becomes necessary. The poor health worker in the remote communities in Ghana (and their relatives) are more likely to die from this strike than their leaders in Accra/Kumasi.
We shall continue to have strike actions in Ghana but when leaders call for these strikes, those in the districts and in remote communities should remember that the grounds are not even, and sometimes their leaders remember them only in these times when the strike action will become more effective when they join. I have said it many times that Ghana is not only Accra and Kumasi. Those outside these two cities in Ghana deserve better.
By Dr. Kofi Effah
Specialist (Obstetrician Gynaecologist)
Catholic Hospital Battor