Deputy Minister for Health, Dr Bernard Oko Boye has finally come out with the proper definition of a frontline health worker. He stated that “the definition for frontline workers, as agreed on with all relevant stakeholders is any health worker, who has been involved in the management of a confirmed case of COVID-19”.
The raging controversy has been put to rest with better clarity since initially there was ‘confusion’ over who a frontline health worker is, following an announcement by the government of a 50 per cent salary top-up for such category of health workers in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result of the controversy, there has been delayed payments of the 50 per cent to frontline health workers earlier announced by government at the onset of the outbreak of the pandemic.
Consequently, Dr Boye stated: “I am happy to mention that the 6000 health workers that were vetted and validated as having been in direct management of confirmed COVID-19 cases have had their 50 per cent basic pay for the month of April hit their accounts”.
However, the deputy Minister for Health indicated that the list of frontline health workers which currently stands at approximately 6000 could change depending on the cases confirmed at facilities, and the number of people involved in the management.
Hence, the list is a dynamic one that changes with a current situation, Dr. Oko Boye stated. The incentive provided by the state for health workers is to encourage them to offer their services, even in the wake of what is considered a deadly virus.
The incentive was timely since the Director-General of the Ghanaian Health Service, Patrick Kumah-Aboagye said that around 2,065 health workers have been infected with coronavirus since the pandemic hit the country.
Thankfully, only six people out of the 2,065 that succumbed to the infection passed away due to Covid-19 complications. Health workers have long called for more protection as they work in the front line of the virus combat.
Ghana is one of few African countries where health officials have not gone on strike over conditions of service and we believe this is as a result of the tax breaks and other perks announced by government coupled with the procurement of PPE to protect health staff.