AFRICAN MIRROR CORRESPONDENT
HEALTH workers in Ghana, the frontline workers in the war against the COVID-19 pandemic, have received a massive cash boost, running into millions of dollars, from the government.
The President of Ghana Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has announced that the special dispensation to exempt health workers from paying tax has been extended for another three months. President Akufo-Addo also extended the special allowance – 50% of their monthly salary. The special incentive package for health workers in Ghana, has placed millions in their pockets. It started in April and was expected to end in June.
President Akufo-Addo said Ghana was doing well in its bid to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 infections and minimise the number of fatalities. He attributed the progress made by the West African nation to the excellent work done by health workers.
He said most patients, who were critically ill and needed intensive care, survived the virus, if they sought medical help promptly.
“For example, out of 53 patients admitted into intensive care units at the Ga East Municipal Hospital and the University of Ghana Medical Centre, since the pandemic struck, 44, i.e. 83%, have fully recovered, and have been discharged. This is, in part, due to the immense dedication and hard work being exhibited by our healthcare workers, who continue to care for those affected by the virus, and for the sick in general.
“In recognition of these efforts, I announced, during my fifth address to the nation, on April 5, an incentive package to motivate and express appreciation to all health workers for the months of April, May and June. I am happy to announce that I have decided to extend the incentive package for health workers by another three months. This means that all health workers will pay no income taxes for the next three months, i.e. July, August and September. Again, all frontline health workers, as defined by the Ministry of Health, will continue to receive the additional allowance of 50% of their basic salary per month, i.e. for July, August and September. I know the implementation of this directive for the months of April, May and June has been fraught with some challenges, caused, mainly, by the protracted discussions over the definition of who qualifies as “frontline health workers” in this context. I have, however, been assured that they have now been resolved, and payments will be effected from the end of June. I should reiterate that the insurance package for health workers is still in place,” President Akufo-Addo said.
He said as at June 27, Ghana had recorded 17,351 confirmed cases, with 12,994 recoveries, representing some 75% of positives. The statistics meant that Ghana had 4,245 active cases, having conducted 294,867 tests. Thirty persons were critically ill and a total of 112 died, constituting 0.6% of positives, as Ghana maintained one of the lowest death rates in the world.
“As I have stated before, one of the key objects of our fight against COVID-19 has been to save lives, and reduce the number of deaths. The Ghana Health Service has observed that most of the patients that have been lost to the virus died either on arrival at the hospital, or within 48 hours after arrival. Unfortunately, we still have some persons in the country who are not taking the dangers associated with this disease seriously, and, therefore, do not seek medical help as soon as they have symptoms that suggest an infection of the virus.
“There should be no fear of stigmatisation or embarrassment with being diagnosed with COVID-19. So, please, when you begin to experience symptoms such as fever, persistent cough, bodily pains, loss of taste and smell, and difficulty in breathing, seek immediate medical attention at the nearest health facility. Let us all be reminded, in our daily routines, that adhering to the enhanced social distancing and hygiene protocols will not only save our lives, but also prevent our healthcare infrastructure from being over-burdened. Let us wash our hands with soap under running water, use alcohol-based sanitizers, maintain the protocols on social distancing, avoid person to person contact, eat our local foods that boost our immune systems, and, yes, wear masks at all times when we leave our homes. These are the weapons of our battle. We must keep our guard up at all times, and see to it that sooner, rather than later, COVID-19 becomes nothing but a blip on our forward march to sustained development, progress and prosperity.”