Delay in posting physician assistants to health facilities is bad – Physician Assistant Association

The Ghana Physician Assistant Association says continuous delay in posting physician assistants to health facilities is derailing the country’s effort to achieving universal health coverage by 2030.

The Association observed whilst some health facilities in hard-to-reach areas that are in dire need of the services of physician assistants, qualified PAs remain home awaiting placement.

“Delay in getting financial clearance for qualified Physician Assistants is arguably the main reason for the large numbers of unemployed Physician Assistants. I want to use this opportunity to make a passionate appeal to the Ministries of Health and Finance to expedite the processes leading to the issuance of financial clearance and subsequent employment of these qualified healthcare cadres” President of the Association, Emmanuel Yaw Appiah noted.

He was speaking at the 19th Annual General Conference of the Ghana Physician Assistants Association.

Most health facilities in the country are manned by physician assistants.

These cadre of healthcare professionals handle about 70% of the health needs of rural and underserved populations.

They consult, request for laboratory investigations, prescribe medication, and perform minor surgeries among other responsibilities.

But the Ghana Physician Assistants Association expressed concern over what they claim to be proper recognition.

“Although the Physician Assistant remains a key player and actor in the health care delivery machinery especially at the Sub-district level, not much has been done through policy formulation and implementation to capacitate and resource the Physician Assistant to function effectively and efficiently at the Sub-district level, the fulcrum and vehicle for the attainment of Universal Health Coverage for all.

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“it is unfortunate to note that despite the many years of existence of the PA Profession, there has not been any properly established career progression pathway in the
profession. It is our hope that the current deliberations on-going amongst the officials of the
Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service, Medical and Dental Council of Ghana, the Academia and Ghana Physician Assistant Association (GPAA) will bring about the establishment of clear career and academic pathways for the PA profession”

The Association is also unhappy with what they described as unfavorable policies by their regulator, the Medical and Dental Council (MDC).

“Most of our members are demanding that we exit the MDC and get a new regulatory body to that will supervise and manage the affairs of physician assistants. The MDC always formulate policies that serve the interest on medical officers at the expense of physician assistants. So there is huge pressure on leadership for a slip because of the kind of things the regulator has done”, Mr Appiah said.

The 3-day conference which afforded members the opportunity to deliberate on their challenges and way forward into the future was themed “Strengthening and Maximizing the sub district level for effective, efficient and equitable healthcare service delivery: The role of the stakeholder”

By Ibrahim Abubakar||Ghana