Fifty-eight thousand midwife and nurse trainees are to benefit from the restoration of the nurse and midwife trainees’ allowance which was launched by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in Sunyani yesterday.
In the 2017/18 academic year, the government is to spend GH¢232 million to pay the allowances of the beneficiaries who will receive GH¢400 each per month for the next 10 months.
A number of midwife and nurse trainees from across the country who attended the launch of the restoration of the allowance could not hide their joy as they besieged the inner perimeter of the venue for the occasion, amid dancing and showering of praises on the President and his government.
The security personnel at the Sunyani Nursing and Midwifery School had a hectic time controlling the milling trainees who surged forward, after receiving text messages during the event to confirm that their allowances had hit their respective bank accounts.
The introduction of trainee allowances originally started in the country with training colleges that were attached to some secondary schools with the intention of motivating more students to pursue teacher training education.
Later, nurse/midwife trainees allowance was also introduced to encourage more people to study nursing and midwifery courses, and this continued until the 2013/14 academic year when the policy was abolished by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.
It was then argued that the scrapping of the allowance and replacing it with loans from the Students Loan Trust Fund was necessary to reduce the financial burden on the government.
In the run-up to the 2016 general election, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) promised to restore the allowance, if voted into power, to serve as a motivation to attract more people to attend nursing colleges and colleges of education.
The restoration of the allowance is, therefore, in fulfilment of the NPP government’s 2016 campaign promise.
Speaking at the launch, President Nana Akufo-Addo said the government had put in place the necessary measures to sustain the policy.
He said the E-zwich platform would be used for the payment of the allowance to ensure “convenience, prompt payment and accountability”.
He assured critics of the policy, whom he referred to as “professional cynics and sceptics”, that with the proper management of the country’s public finances, the budget could accommodate the payment of the allowances.
“The implementation of the free senior high school (SHS) policy should be an indicator of the fact that leadership is about choices. I have chosen to invest in the education and future of our young men and women and I will use the blessings the Almighty God has so amply bestowed on us to this end,” he said.
Employment of health workers
He said within nine months, the government had employed 16,000 qualified young nurses and midwives and other health professionals who, although qualified, had not found employment over the last few years.
The President said before the end of the year, additional qualified nurses and midwives would be employed, adding that the government planned to employ even more healthcare workers, who would include privately trained nurses and midwives.
“Our aim is to banish the spectre of nurses, midwives and health assistants who are not posted after the completion of their courses,” he said.
NHIS is working again
He said the payment of the allowance could not have been possible without the prudent management of the economy and explained that the judicious application of resources had heralded the revival of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
He commended the Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, for being prudent in the usage of resources which had resulted in the payment of GH¢560 million out of the GH¢1.2 billion debt owed by the NHIS to service providers when the government assumed office.
President Nana Akufo-Addo said the government was committed to paying the remaining debt owed the scheme within the next 12 months to prevent the debt from strangling the NHIS and declared that “the NHIS is working again”.
“We are going to make our public finances robust again, so we can pay our way in the world like any self-respecting nation,” he said, adding that the government remained committed to the implementation of policies that would improve the living conditions of Ghanaians.
For his part, Mr Agyeman-Manu explained that the beneficiaries would be paid for the two semesters (eight months) they would spend in school and the two months they would use for clinical training to support them, so that they could use the allowance to procure some training materials.
He said adequate measures had been put in place to ensure the sustainability of the policy and urged the beneficiaries to use the allowance for the purpose for which it was provided.
“Your Excellency, for my information, as I speak and as we came onto the podium, we got the indication that some of the allowances had hit the respective accounts,” he said, after which the students burst into wild jubilation.
The President of the Conference of Heads of Health Training Institutions (COHHETI), Mrs Josephine Ansu-Gyeabuor, expressed the appreciation of the institutions to the government for the restoration of the allowance and called on the government to expand the policy to cover other healthcare trainees in future.
The Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Mr Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, said the launch of the restoration of the allowances in the region was not by accident, explaining that the region had 17 health training institutions, the highest number in the country.
Some of the students mounted the podium to thank the government for restoring the allowance and promised to complete their studies to contribute to the health delivery system.