Environmental Health workers across the country at the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assmeblies (MMDAs) has vowed to withdraw their services in the midst of the nation’s fight against the novel, Coronavirus.
Their actions is in relation to government sidelining them in its recent announcement of stimulus package for front line health workers in the fight against COVID-19 by the President of the Republic,His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
The President on Sunday, 5th April, 2020 in his address to the nation regarding to pandemic announced tax exemption on emoluments of front line health workers across the country as well 50% increment in allowances for the period of three month starting from this month, April to June, 2020
However, Environmental Health workers feels sidelined, discriminated and neglected by the announcement of the President after letters to effect this directives emphatically shows that, they are not part of the categories of health workers to benefit from the stimulus package(s).
In an exclusive interview with this online news portal, one of the Environmental Health worker disclosed that, they have been at the frontline since the outbreak of Coronavirus in the country, educating, sensitizing the general public on the virus and how to stay safe not to be infected,spraying of markets among other assigned duties, hence does not understand why they have been left out.
“We are equally at the front line like any other health worker as we fight against COVID-19, hence deem it fit to enjoy the stimulus package such as tax exemption announced by the President for health workers.
In addition, ” we where trained to perform various duties relating to environmental health (both urban and rural) and generally to become useful members of the National Public Health Services as well as to meet the demands of various agencies for their public health programmes”.
To that effect, are active at the front line in the nation’s fight against COVID-19 and needs not to be sidelined, discriminated and neglected as they risk their lives and that of their families.
Meanwhile, citing the list of categories of health workers to benefit from this directives in two letters signed by the Chief Director of Ministry of Health, Nana Kwabena Adjei-Mensah to the Director of Budget of the Ministry of Finance dated 6th April and 7th April, 2020 to effect the directives of the President; tax exemption on emoluments of front line health workers does not have Environmental Health workers.
And this act has made them, Environmental health workers to ‘decide’ to withdraw their services as the country putting measures in place to contain the pandemic.
According to our source, if nothing is done to include them to the categories of health workers to benefit from the announced stimulus package such as tax exemption on emoluments for the three month period announced by the President of the Republic,they wont render their services at the expense of their lives and families.
Th letter dated 7th April, 2020 categorically enlisted the categories of health workers to be beneficiaries of this package as a way to motivate them to render a selfless service in the fight against COVID-19.
These categories are in two folds, first and foremost, health facilities, thus health workers assigned to the following service areas: Triaging facilities, case management team( facility, homes) , Treatment Centers, Rapid Response Teams ( including testing team members), Laboratory, support services (Drivers, mortuary, cleaners, medical stores, catering laundry, clinical engineering, revenue collectors).
The second category is the District Health Directorate which consist of District Health Management Team, Rapid Response Team members, District Core Management Team as well as subdistrict teams in all the MMDAs in the country.
Interestingly, the Ghana International Trade Fair: 1-19 Feb, 1967- The Health Services In Ghana document points out the importance of environmental health officers in government effort to secure improved environment in the country, therefore their sidelining, discrimination and neglection is a worrying to nation’s efforts in thefight against COVID-19.
In a related development, the Ghana Registered Nurses Association (GRNA) has also urged government to include every health worker in the stimulus package that has been set aside for frontline health personnel in the fight against Coronavirus.
President of the Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwives Association, Perpetual Ofori-Ampofo speaking in an interview on Peace FM’s ‘Platform’ programme, Monday, said it is not wrong for only ‘frontline’ health workers to be covered by the insurance package.
“It should cover everybody because we are all at risk . . . the initiative is good and we are grateful. But every nurse or midwife everywhere is exposed,” she said.
Attached are the letters written and signed by the Chief Director of Ministry of Health to the Director of Budgets of the Ministry of Finance.
Source: www.thwnewindependentonline.com/ Ishmael Barfi