The programme to send 250 young Ghanaians to Cuba for training as health professionals was a bilateral agreement between the Government of Cuba and the Government of Ghana represented by the Ministry of Health.
The Ghana Health Service was not involved in this agreement.
The programme had the blessing of President John Evans Atta Mills, and Vice President John Dramani Mahama was charged to oversee the exercise.
Several meetings were held in the VP’s office to review the programme details and the recruitment process. As part of the process, VP Mahama had to visit Cuba.
One of the underlying principles of the recruitment of the students was to pick qualified children who came from underprivileged families and from vulnerable communities. This was done so that they could be posted back to health facilities in the deprived communities from which they hailed.
Another principle was to include qualified girls from the Muslim community because of concerns raised by Muslims about issues relating to the reproductive health of Muslim women being attended to by male doctors.
250 students were therefore sent to Cuba for training as medical professionals. 221 successfully completed their courses. Of this number, 60 were Muslims and 25 of them female Muslims.
The Ghana Health Service was not involved in this whole arrangement, it is therefore surprising that the Director General who is known for his very partisan alignment to the NPP has injected himself into the conversation.
What the Director General forgets is that at the rural hospitals, issues of reproductive and gynaecological health of women are handled primarily by general practitioners and not specialists. Referrals are made to specialists only in the event of complications and emergencies.
The Director General must also be aware that nobody goes straight to be trained as a gynaecologist unless they first train as a general practitioner and that was why the programme began with 25 Muslim girls to first of all complete as they have just done, and after their house job, they can continue to specialize. This indeed was the plan envisioned by H. E. John Dramani Mahama.
What the Director General also forgot to acknowledge or may be out of ignorance is that, in Cuba you can continue with your specialization after graduating as a medical officer.
A future NDC government will encourage and sponsor these female Muslim doctors and indeed other females to specialize in the area of gynaecology and female reproductive health in other to give women greater alternatives based on their religious faith and what makes them feel comfortable.
Below is the list of the female Muslim students who qualified and have recently returned home.
MARIAM IDDISA DARI
AMINA PONAA MAMANI
UMU-HERA KANYAN KASSIM
SALA SHERIFA SEIDU
FATIMA ZAHARAWU NUHU MOHAMMED
FADILA ABDUL MAJEED
NAZIHA ABDUL RAUF
RUHANA IBRAHIM DAMBA
RABIATU MMABILA ADUA
AYISHA GURRI DAWDA
NAFISAH ABDUL RASHID
HAWA HUDU MUNKAILA
BIBATA BRAIMAH SADIQUE
RUKAIYA ABDUL RASHID
Alhaji Muniru Limuna