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Feature Article of Saturday, 24 March 2012

Columnist: Manu, Yaw P. K.

Welcome Mr. Alban Sumani Bagbin; But

Another strike action has been instituted by junior doctors of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital but this time it is not about better salaries and other perks which they often cry for. This time around the doctors are pissed of at the managers of the hospital and government, for not providing them with the necessary materials they require to perform their duties. Unprecedented, eh?
Just imagine a journalist who works at a very reputable radio or TV station and yet is denied the necessary tools to do his job will churn out. This journalist apart from his (refers to him and her) very low salary goes to work and does not have access to the internet to do research because his/her media house is indebted to the internet service provider. Then he is assigned to cover a story outside the premises of the media house but is given no means of transportation or “T&T. He manages to go and cover the story with his sound and camera man, bearing the cost on his own. Upon his return he discovers that ECG has done its thing again; there is power outage, the station has no standby generator so the journalist is unable to write his story with a computer. He handwrites his story. When ECG gratefully restores its fluctuating power, this journalist hurries to the editing suite to, as we say it, do his story for the 7 o’clock news; but alas! the only editing machine available has as a result of ECG’s erratic power supply, blown a fuse. The editing will not come off; the story will not be aired timeously thus reducing its relevance, and the poor paid hustling journalist who did not get any “soli” for covering that story would have tired for nothing; work done – zero. It’s just like employing a farmer without making available to him a hoe or cutlass; or a teacher without a chalk, pen or text book. That is the situation the doctors find themselves faced with.
The Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital is supposed to be a model medical centre providing sterling medical services to not only Ghanaians but also people from various parts of the world. It is equipped with a helipad so that emergency cases can be flown in for the appropriate treatment.
A hospital of such repute should not be experiencing a shortage of painkillers, anesthesia, oxygen bandages and cotton wool, and definitely not water and electricity. But this is the state in which an internationally reputed health institution like Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital has been reduced to under the Mills-Mahama led administration.
Since President Mills in his wisdom appointed one Hon. Yileh Chireh to be Minister of Health, this all-so important Ministry has experienced a fierce downturn unprecedented in the administration of any President, at least under the fourth republic. Under his incompetent stewardship, this lawyer of a Minister preferred to proceed on leave to his constituency to campaign at a time medical Doctors were on strike; and he found nothing wrong with that, neither did his boss President Mills. It was under the supervision of this same Khebab chewing and pito-gulping Yileh Chireh that an internationally renowned and honoured heart surgeon in the person of Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng was dishonourably dischardged from his duties at the cardiothoracic center. Let’s not forget the mice which have been ravaging dead bodies at the Tema General Hospital and those which have been criss-crossing the maternity ward of the La General Hospital. This mess was recorded under the stewardship OF Yileh-Chireh, whilst the Asomdwehene looked on stupefied.
Enters another Lawyer, Alban Sumani Bagbin to the health Ministry to do what Yileh –Chireh could not do.
Already Mr. Bagbin has faced his first tremor at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital where accusations of corruption and administrative lapses leveled against the Institutions CEO came up. That confusion has indeed affected health delivery at the facility which happens to be a tertiary health facility that serves neighbouring countries like Togo, Burkina Faso and La Cote D’Ivoire. To streamline things the President has appointed his former presidential contender Eddie Annan as the new Board Chairman of KTH. The appointment of Edward Annan which takes immediate effect comes after former Board Chairman Professor Andrews Seth Aryeettey, relinquished his post following a never-ending boardroom power struggle with the CEO, Prof. Nii Otu Nartey. We will see how that goes.
Mr. Bagbin is now faced with the task of quelling the unrest at KATH before the problem spreads to other health facilities and I must state that so far he is handling the matter like a child.
Directing the National Health Insurance Authority to release some monies to KATH to procure what they need is certainly not the solution to the problem. Have the shortage of medical supplies and other problems being faced by KATH come about because the NHIA is indebted to the Health Institution? Has it come about because there has been some undue delay on the part of the Ministry of Health to release the stipulated funds to KATH?We are entering the last week of the last month of he first quarter; has KATH’s subvention for the first quarter been released to them? Is KATH encountering these challenges because some corrupt personnel of the Purchasing and Supply Section of the Ministry of Health or KATH have been diverting funds or equipment to other places? Please Mr. Minister Bagbin, it is not enough at all to go to Kumasi, give the doctors some pep-talk, “bribe” them with some 2million Ghana¢, buy enough publicity in the media to show all that you are working, and hope that all will be well
I’m not being hard on Minister Bagbin, far from that. For those who don’t know or have forgotten, Alban Sumani Bagbin was one of the early critics of President John Atta Mills. Then Majority leader of our Parliament, Mr. Bagbin joined former President Rawlings to condemn President Mills for his poor showing in his first year. These fierce criticisms compelled President Mills to nominate Mr. Bagbin for appointment as Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing. Mr. Bagbin’s major assignment was to ensure, using his legal skills, that the STX housing deal would go through and also to facilitate the expansion and improvement of water supply in the country. As at the time of leaving that Ministry, Mr. Bagbin had failed t achieve any results, indeed when he was pushed to the wall to tell the people of Ghana something on the STX deal, he gathered some labourers to a part of Dodowa, got them to weed a small parcel of land and then took pictures of the land as evidence of on-going STX works. At the end of the day, “notin happen”.
That time, Mr. Bagbin was dealing with houses and water. This time around we are talking about our health, something he cannot play PR with. If his record at the Ministry of Works And Housing is anything to go by, then we are in for another rough and disappointing ride at the Health Ministry. Indeed I am baffled that Associate Professor President Mills did not fire him but rather appointed him to an even more sensitive ministry.
Please, Mr. Bagbin, the job at the Ministry of Health requires a high level of seriousness and precision about decision making and implementation. We beg, if it’s the same PR gymnastics you are bringing to the Ministry of Health, then carry go; we no want am. Remember, this is our health we are talking about and we can’t joke with it
I for one will be monitoring your performance very closely. Woe betide you if you slip …… .
YAW P. K. MANU

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