President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has been issued an ultimatum to reinstate Dr. Thomas Winsum Anaba within one week as the Medical Director of the Greater Accra Regional Hospital [Ridge Hospital] or brace for a crucial street demonstration in demand for “justice” and “fairness”.
The petition, coming from the Savannah Research and Advocacy Network (SARAN), a pressure group in northern Ghana, is the latest in a string of public outbursts trailing a controversial transfer of the medical director attributed to the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu.
“Mr. President, kindly reinstate Dr. Thomas Winsum Anaba to perform his duties as the Medical Director of the Greater Accra Regional Hospital, Ridge. This will help restore the trust and confidence in our civil services.
“We the members of SARAN believe that the President of the Republic of Ghana will reinstate Dr. Anaba just as he did in less than three days in the case of Dr. Wilfred K. Anim-Odame, the Lands Commission Chief Executive Officer. Members of SARAN and the people of the Savannah Zone will be forced to hit the streets to demand justice and fairness if our President fails to tackle the issue within one-week ultimatum,” the group’s Communication Director, Solomon Zinekena, stated at a news conference held Tuesday in Bolgatanga, Upper East regional capital.
Call Health Minister to order- Group tells President
The Minister of Health is said to have called for the transfer on alleged grounds that Dr. Anaba, whose appointment as medical director at the hospital took effect from February, 2016, and was supposed to last until 2020, lacked the skills needed to manage the newly renovated facility.
The transfer letter asked the medical director to return to his former office at the University for Development Studies (UDS) in Tamale, the Northern regional capital. But Dr. Anaba strongly resisted, reportedly saying the move was improper because the UDS did not have a position like Medical Director and that the Ridge Hospital and the UDS did not have the same conditions of service.
The pressure group shared Dr. Anaba’s sentiment, and expressed it with raw anger- urging President Akufo-Addo to call the Health Minister to order.
“We the members of the Savannah Research and Advocacy Network would like to advise the President that he should not allow individuals to run his government for the country. We also humbly and respectfully call on His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to, as a matter of urgency, call the Health Minister, Hon. Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, to order, because we the citizens of Ghana will not judge your government based on the number of people sacked,” the group asserted.
You rather are incompetent- Group to Minister
The pressure group drew comparisons between some achievements credited to Dr. Anaba and what it considered as weak spots on the part of the Minister for Health.
The feats the medical director is said to have accomplished at the Ridge Hospital before the disputed transfer, according to the group, include: development of a medium-term strategic plan; development of standard operation protocols; development of clinical protocols; development of a costing tool for pricing services; computer literacy training for staff; training of all unit heads and heads of departments on customer care; establishment of telemedicine centre; establishment of a laparoscopic unit under surgery and rearrangement of the organisational structure of the hospital.
The rest are: support for staff training at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and the 37 Military Hospital in emergency medicine, burns management and critical care respectively; attracting more specialists and critical staff; securing land documents for the Ridge Hospital for the first time; facilitating reorganisation of staff welfare with establishment of a credit union for the hospital; establishment of reliable laboratory services; instituting a round-the-clock imaging service with the introduction of echocardiography services; increase in number of specialists and drastic reduction in maternal and infant deaths.
Dr. Anaba is also reported to have “improved time in submission of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) claims, conducted a survey on state revenue generation and controls by service points and [improved] payment to suppliers.”
Whilst hailing those exploits as the credentials of a person who should be retained as the medical director of the hospital, the group had harsh words for the Health Minister, saying he rather was “incompetent” and “lacking” managerial skills.
“Hon. Kwaku Agyeman-Manu claims Dr. Anaba is incompetent and lacks managerial skills. SARAN will aid him to know the real definition of incompetence and [the] lack of managerial skills. Incompetence is when a full substantive minister is not aware that there is no university in Ghana called University [of] Development Studies. The only public university we know of in the Savannah Zone is the University [for] Development Studies. Lack of managerial skills is when a Health Minister fails to know that Dr. Anaba’s appointment is not a political one. Incompetence is when a Health Minister does not know that Dr. Anaba was appointed by the Ghana Health Service Council and he as a Health Minister cannot take [a] unilateral decision without the Council to relieve Dr. Anaba of his position.
“Gross incompetence and ineptitude is when a Health Minister takes directives from a construction company to effect a release of a duly appointed medical director of a 4-year mandate without consultation. Incompetence is when a Health Minister writes a supposed transfer letter to the transferee without copying the institution he or she is transferred to. Incompetence is when a Health Minister, who was assigned to the Health Ministry to find sustainable funding for NHIS, fails and almost runs the scheme to a shutdown,” the group stressed in a jointly signed statement issued at the news conference.