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Opinions of Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Columnist: Abraham Ananpansah

Why African leaders prefer to seek medical care abroad

It has become the rule,not the exception to wake up in Africa with news of political leaders fleeing the shores of the continent to seek medical attention abroad.

Only recently did the president of Nigeria,Muhammadu Buhari return home after a somewhat usual three months of sick leave in the United Kingdom(UK).The 74 year old we are told,was responding to treatment for an undisclosed sickness.

The president of Benin,Patrice Talon was away from the country some months ago seeking medical attention in France.He spent almost a month treating an undisclosed illness in France.

His excellency,the heavy-weight-no-nonsense Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has been frequenting Singapore to bank his medical liabilities. He has been to that country twice since the beginning of 2017 to treat what we are told is cataract-eye defect.

And the list of "abroad-treating-undisclosed-sickness is just simply unending....May the good Lord grant us all good health.I forgot to add prosperity.Amen!

Indeed, the seemingly unquenchable thirst of Africa leaders for health systems' abroad leads one to the land of wonder if not fury about the faith of our own health system.

For crying out loud, Africa can pride itself with some of the best hospitals in the world.

We have the Life Healthcare Hospital Group-South Africa, Neuropsychiatric Hospital Aro Abeobuta-Nigeria, Arab Contractors Medical Centre-Egypt, the Netcare Greenacres Hospital-South Africa, Genzouri Specialised-Hospital Egypt, Diani Beach Hospital-Kenya, St.Luke's Hospital Angal-Uganda, Ghana Canada Medical Centre-Ghana, MediClinic Group-South Africa, Institute Pasteur de Madagascar-Madagascar.

The aforementioned are just the top ten hospitals in the continent as catalogued by Peter Pedroncelli, AFK Insider.

We equally have the best-trained doctors who are highly demanded abroad.

So what at all are our leaders looking for in those hospitals abroad that we don't have in Africa?Or is it the case that they build those ultra modern and well-equipped hospitals,and train the best doctors but lack faith in them?

Are they by such actions encouraging us to also lose confidence in our own doctors and system? We have no option, anyway.

Or they are simply admitting that they have failed to develop our domestic health care system?

The above may all be possibilities.In fact, they are possibilities.

But one thing that has been engaging my attention in this mystification is the issue of confidentiality and privacy in healthcare delivery and partisan politics in Africa.

We seem to live in a continent where everything including anything is politics. The health of leaders offer either political dividend or liability. Why not? We need to be sure our leaders are healthy and fit to lead us. One cannot be productive without good health.

Hence, health is partisan politics in Africa. The walls, corners, beds, human resource of our hospitals don't only have ears but engage in the "partisan politics some...Mercy!

In that light, don't you think our leaders are suspicious and full of trust issues-of our system-health confidentiality? Maybe, just maybe they simply don't trust our hospitals and health care providers with their health information and the bearing of that on their political fortunes...

Don't get me wrong, I don't doubt one bit the integrity and professionalism of our health care workers. But I doubt in every way possible, our way of politics.

There is nothing politics cannot do to an African man. Because of politics, we now fear our own shadows.

Our doctors may be perfect, but our leaders are simply wrestling with trust issues. They feel convinced about being able to keep as secret any information about their health after returning from such health asylums abroad. Anything short of this, and power may be kissing them goodbye.

But someone should please remind them that our people here are also capable-their health records are quite safe.

Let's back our health concerns in the hospitals and doctors we have altogether build and trained respectively.

I may be wrong. I may be right. But let's all think it.

May God bless our continent.

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