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Life-saving Decision!

Personal of the medical corps have been all smiles since last Friday July 3, 2020 with the ecstasy extending to outright celebrations for some in what pundits hold is a new dawn for the health professionals. Logically so as having five years added to one’s retirement age; as the Head of State’s decision entails, might come with a lot for the beneficiary. 
In effect, junior-ranking health personnel who were due retirement at 50 would henceforth retire at 55 whereas those of the senior category will go on retirement at 60 instead of the hitherto 55. Visibly, their long-drawn complaint of “I am retired not tired” got the attention of the highest authority of the land who swung into action last Friday. Salutary and timely move!  
President Paul Biya’s decision to increase the retirement age of the health personnel can have a two-fold undertone: Lifting the morale of those who labour day and night; sometimes under not-so-good conditions, to save human life as well as his desire to ensure a healthy population for expressive growth. No one is certainly oblivious to the sacrifices health personnel have been making over the years to ensure that Cameroonians lead healthy lives. The advent of the devastating Covid-19 pandemic during which personnel of the medical corps have been stretching sometimes beyond limits with others even paying the supreme price is telling of a vital section of the country’s workforce that needs due consideration. 
The Head of State’s recent decision is therefore a logical follow up after he singled out the medical personnel for praise in his unprecedented May 19, 2020 address to the nation within the context of the deadly pandemic and on the eve of the 48th National Day. In effect, Mr Biya in his speech hailed the courage of Cameroonian health professionals and those assisting them whom he said have demonstrated utmost availability in using the sometimes scarce and not-up-to-date resources available to treat those infected with the disease. “Indeed, they are not giving up in the face of the gravity of Covid-19 infection. The Nation, through me, congratulates and urges them to keep it up,” President Paul Biya said on May 19, 2020.
Adding five more years to their retirement age is therefore understandable. Far from being read as compensation to personnel of the medical corps, the Presidential decision is the more rational looking at the time the professionals go through to get themselves trained for the job. After A/Level or Baccalaureate for example, one needs to go through seven years of intense training to qualify as a general medical health practitioner (Medical Doctor). Getting specialised might take their training period to 11, 14 or even more years depending on the domain of specialisation. Going through all of these with sometimes huge State subvention only to get retired at a ripe age of 55 was not only utter waste for government but equally discouraging for the trained. Little wonder, many of them who got retired but not tired have embraced businesses through opening and running clinics or simply seeking greener pastures elsewhere. It is understood that health personnel are like good wine. They get better with age and experience and so should be relied upon at matured ages rather than being sent home. 
Even more to the Presidential decision is his visible unwavering desire to guarantee the health of his compatriots on whom his vision for sustainable socio-economic development depends. With the knowledge that health is wealth, the Head of State has been seen to be embracing all that is needed to keep his compatriots healthy. Giving more time for the health practitioners to be at the service of the population is just one among his many efforts over the years. 
As beneficiaries of the Presidential gesture continue feasting the five more years they will have to spend in the civil service, analytical thinkers hold that more could still be done to make their stay more useful for them and the population for which they work. Hospitals and staff are in dire need of improvement, notably with regards to infrastructure, equipment and working conditions. These are interwoven excellence-enhancing measures that go together. 
Failing which, the five additional years would just be time enough for unscrupulous staff to vent their frustrations on helpless patients. God forbid! The Presidential decision is perceived as a life-saving one and stakeholders absolutely need to keep self aside to make it as such. 



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