Getting by without a break: The ordeal of more than 5,000 interns and rotational nurses in allied health


Even though the Ministry of Finance has approved the payment of their mandatory internship allowance, approximately 5,239 health interns remain agitated and uncertain.

On September 19, 2022, a letter signed by Abena Osei-Asare, Deputy Minister for Finance, "granted approval" to the Ministry of Health for the Controller and Accountant-General's Department to pay the allowances of the rotational nurses, midwives, and allied health interns for the years 2021 and 2022.

Even though the letter states that "emoluments of the interns should be charged against the Compensation of Employees Vote of the Ministry of Health in the 2022 Annual Estimates," it is unclear when exactly the health interns will begin receiving their allowances.

nurses' Letter from the Ministry of Finance Daniel Kwasi Agyei, a rotational nurse, told The Fourth Estate that the words of the Health and Finance ministries are now like straw-built pillars to him.

He stated categorically, "If I were to tell you the truth, even if they call me today to tell me they are going to release it, I will never believe it."

Daniel has lost all faith in the ministries because they have promised a lot of things but haven't done them justice in the past.

Daniel has been a rotational nurse at the Ahafo Ano North Municipal Hospital in Tepa, Ashanti Region, since December 2021; however, he has not yet received his allowance.

He couldn't pay his bills after a few months of his internship, so he couldn't use the utilities in his rented apartment. Daniel told The Fourth Estate that he trekked to get water, despite the fact that the compound has access to tap water.

“As I stated, I was unable to attend work today. I am out of options. I walked yesterday. I went for a walk on Monday. I must also walk today. I'm worn out! As he told of his experience, Daniel's voice broke.

He told The Fourth Estate that his supervisor would add a week's worth of work to his schedule if he missed a day of work without addressing his situation.

Daniel stated, "They say that is the system, and they don't care."

During the Allied Health Interns' one-year mandatory internship, this was their plight. They have completed their internship, but they have not yet received their rotation allowance, unlike their fellow nurses and midwives.

Precious Takyi, an allied health intern who is six months pregnant and is not her real name, claims that she completed the required internship by relying on her younger sister and God.

I have been defrauding my younger sister of money. I am 32. She is 25. She does petty trading and lives in Kumasi. As a result, she has been my advocate. Aside from that, it has been God's handiwork."

In 2018, Precious graduated from the Duayaw Nkwanta Saint John the Divine College of Health. Her most reliable source of income during the internship and school years was an occasional GHS100 from singing gigs with a band.

However, her band does not always benefit from opportunities.

I've been going to a program for about two months, and I finally went yesterday. She stated to The Fourth Estate that there might not be a program for three months.

Precious lost her mother three years ago. Video Player 00:00 00:32 Her father relies on her. Because of this, she had to borrow 2,000 GHS in order to get a place to live in Sunyani and finish her required internship. Each month, she pays GHS200 in interest on the principal.

Precious's precarious financial situation makes it impossible for her to consume the recommended diet of healthy foods while she is pregnant.

“Even today, at the laboratory, they informed me that because I have protein trails in my urine, I must consume a lot of fruits; however, where is the money to purchase the fruits? I eat whatever I get. I just grind it and eat it, even banku and hot pepper. As a result, I am unable to procure the child's nutrition," she narrated.

The interns in Allied Health said that they had to pay GHS300 by September 9 in order to take their license exams in October 2022. If you don't take this exam, you can't work as a professional.

When she spoke with The Fourth Estate, Precious, who owes GHS3,000 for school fees, was worried about how she would pay this amount. However, in order to pay for the license fees, she borrowed GHS100 and obtained GHS200 from a gig.

Jacob Addai, an Allied Health intern from the Ashanti Region of Aputuogya, is in the same predicament as his coworkers. He is at odds with his parents because they don't believe his claims that his allowance hasn't been paid.

The Amansie South District Assembly in Edubia is 45 minutes from Jacob's home, which is three hours away by car. He uses commercial motorbikes that cost GHS14 to get to and from work because cars avoided the road where he used to work.

He sometimes eats once a day as an intern to stay alive. He also goes back to Aputuogya for food relief when things get worse.

He stated to The Fourth Estate, "It takes a toll on you and you cry within you knowing that everyone around you thinks you are okay."

Jacob, who graduated from the Tamale School of Hygiene, claims that his financial situation made it difficult for him to complete the majority of the tasks required of him in order to become a more effective environmental health officer.

A more pressing issue was on Patience's mind. Her greatest worry is not knowing when she will get a job. According to the Medical Laboratory Scientist, this puts her future in doubt.

Patience, who is originally from Kintampo and works at the College of Health and Well-being, had to move to Breman in the Ashanti Region to complete her internship.

Fortunately, her parents occasionally provide her with Ghc100, anticipating that such a sum would last at least two weeks.

"I am a woman. I do have periods. I have to buy things for myself. How do I spend the GHC100 to acquire all of this? She lamented, "It's pathetic in every way."

Every time she was on duty in August 2022, her final month of service, she walked to the Breman SDA hospital. She arrived at work drenched in sweat and exhausted from the 30-minute journey.

Patience revealed to The Fourth Estate that whenever she worked afternoon shifts, she worried about her safety. This is because she had to walk home alone at night if it rained or the night shift worker was late.

She took a month off from work during her internship because she couldn't eat, using a strike action as an excuse.

Working while starving poses a threat to the patient. At one point, I went to work but didn't feel like it. She recalled, "I just didn't have the zeal to work; I wasn't sick or anything."

In contrast to nurses, who are regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, Patience believes that her situation persists because there is no association that represents her and her coworkers under the Allied Health Professions Council.

Normalizing Trauma The National Health Students Association of Ghana (NHSAG) petitioned the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, to expedite the release of the students' allowance a month after they began their internship in September 2021.

Due to the fact that the delaying of their benefits had become one of the numerous ongoing issues the nation faces, they believed this action was crucial.

Balom Rahim Maasubee, the Vice President of NHSAG, stated to The Fourth Estate that they did not anticipate receiving their allowance until at least four to five months after beginning their National Service.

Nonetheless, the association's executives had pleaded with and written numerous letters to the health and finance ministries as well as the various health facilities' human resource departments. These efforts have not resulted in anything.

Inquiring about their delayed allowance, the NHSAG leadership met with Deputy Minister of Finance Abena Osei-Asare on July 19, 2022. They were informed that the Ministry of Health had not received the documents it needed to process the payments.

However, they had been informed by the Ministry of Health that all of the necessary paperwork had been sent to the Ministry of Finance in October 2021 in order for the process to begin.

Despite the fact that the Service of Money has made an announcement that may launch the cycle for the understudies to accept their GHS817 month to month recompense, there is far to go before they accept their stipend in the event that the typical example is to be followed.

After the Ministry of Finance issues a financial clearance for each intern, the majority of the important steps begin.

The interns complete paperwork and attach it to their financial clearance at their respective health facilities. The Ministry of Health receives this next. Each student receives a staff ID after the forms are processed by the Ministry. The students' biometric information is taken after they receive their IDs and sent to the Controller and Accountant General's Department for payment. Despite the statement, nothing in this process has been addressed, according to the vice president of NHSAG.

The Fourth Estate is aware that, despite the publication of a press release, the interns have not been contacted by the various human resources departments of the health facilities where they interned.

The interns claim that the HR managers have encouraged them to inquire about whether their coworkers at other institutions have yet received their clearance letters.

The Fourth Estate was unsuccessful in obtaining confirmation from the Deputy Minister of Finance that her department has received all required documents from the Ministry of Health. When asked if her company had received all the necessary documents to facilitate the seamless payment of the allowances, she directed The Fourth Estate to the Ministry of Health after numerous attempts to reach her failed.

The Ministry of Health's sources declined to comment publicly, but they did say that they had carried out their responsibilities. On September 12, 2022, a request for an interview was sent to the Minister of Health; however, no decision has been made regarding it.

When Dr. Samuel Yaw Opoku, the Registrar of the Allied Health Professionals Council, was contacted, he admitted knowing about the interns' plight. However, he stated that the council did not have the authority to set the interns' allowances.

He stated, "Rather, it is the responsibility of the council to ensure that the interns meet the required criteria to begin their internship."

He emphasized that they did not have "any outstanding" documentation issues when asked if his organization had provided all the necessary documents for the Ministry of Health to send to the Ministry of Finance.

The purpose of the documentation we are required to submit to the Ministry is to compile a list of those who are qualified to serve in the Ministry. The remainder is therefore handled by the Ministry of Health's human resources division. They won't be doing the internship if that wasn't done, he said.

He believes that "the buck stops" with the Ministry of Finance, despite the fact that he has no idea why the allowances have not been paid.

Balom Rahim Maasubee, the vice president of NHSAG, stated that the allowance payment procedure had been "deteriorating since the New Patriotic Party administration assumed office." This process typically took close to four months after the release of clearance forms.

He went on to say that Health Interns had "never" been paid less than a month's salary when they finished their internship.

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