Recognition and Career progression for Ghana Physician Assistants in Health Sector

Recognition and Career progression for Ghana Physician Assistants in Health Sector

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Obed Etor started this petition to Government of Ghana (Ministry of Health)

Physician Assistants (commonly referred to as PAs) in Ghana are essential primary care medical practitioners well trained on medical model. They hold BSC in Physician Assistanship as basic professional qualification. They provide medical care services to over 70% of Ghanaian citizens and foreigners at large in the communities including hard to reached geographical locations.

PA training started in Ghana in 1970 in Rural Health Training school Kintampo, RHTS (now College of Health, Kintampo, CohK) as advanced Diploma in Community Medicine and Health, and later upgraded to Bachelor of Science PA (General, dental or community medicine) which is now run by some Universities/Colleges in Ghana.

Over decades till date, PAs have been the back bone of primary health care in Ghana. These cadre of middled leveled medical practitioners have sacrificially provided medical services to many citizens and foreigners at large, saving many lives and also refer complicated cases to higher health facilities.

PAs who work in the hospitals attend to a lot of clients daily (24/7) including emergencies, and even over work due to work over load.

PAs also head the Health Centres where they double as facility heads/managers (managress), accountants, and procurement officers (especially where these human resources are lacking) as well as having overside responsibilities on public health issues in the catchment areas in the sub districts they find themselves.

Various countries have adopted different nomenclature for PAs, for instance Physician Assistants in USA, Physician Associates in UK, Clinical Officers in some African countries like Kenya, etc. 

If PA profession is not important globally, countries like USA, UK, Canada, African countries would not have developed specialization programs for PAs. However, the PA profession in Ghana Health Sector has not yet received needed attention, making Ghana to lag behind globally.

Unfortunately, despite all the sacrifices of PAs in Ghana, PAs are hardly recognized during essential decision making, their Autonomy is usually undermined, they lack Condition of service, Career progression (specialization), among other myriad of challenges.

PAs are Ghanaian citizens, for that matter they are entitled to equal rights and treatment as other medical practitioners. In annotation, PAs are members of health team, and stakeholders who also play unique roles in health sector.

If these basic aforementioned challenges regarding proper functioning of PAs in Ghana health sector are resolved, PAs will be in much better position to provide holistic health services to the citizens including those in hard to reach communities (rural areas, villages), which will at the long run fulfill the WHO Universal Health Coverage agenda .......!

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