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General News of Monday, 9 April 2018


'Wrongfully dismissed' doctor due for test on Wednesday

Ghana’s Medical and Dental Council (MDC) has fixed Wednesday, April 11, 2018, for another psychiatric assessment to be carried out on Dr. Francis Betonsi Ibrahim (FBI) who was “wrongfully dismissed” from the Ghana Health Service (GHS) six years ago on alleged grounds of a mental disorder.

The upcoming examination in Accra, said to be the fifth test on FBI since 2011, follows a series of reports Starr News has run for the widely read young doctor, who has endured so much suffering for a period now inching close to a decade, to be reinstated and compensated.

Bent on assessing his mental status, the council wrote to FBI about two weeks ago to appear before a practice committee to be evaluated by a psychiatrist and a clinical psychologist or have his registration with the council suspended, in other words to have his licence revoked.

There is a general feeling, as the “highly intelligent” poor doctor prepares for the review not even sure where to get a befitting dress to wear to look presentable before the panel, that a false report might, after the review, be written against him to satisfy “a cabal” he says is responsible for his years-long plight.

FBI, who is at present resident in the Upper East region, said he is compelled to submit himself for the test out of a deepening frustration and because he does not want his licence withdrawn.

“So far, I can only say I’m impressed with how the GMA (Ghana Medical Association) has stood by him (Dr. Ibrahim) after reports of his plight came out. But simply put, if the panel which we heard has been set up by the Medical and Dental Council writes any report we suspect to be biased or influenced by an individual or a clique, the panel would have to justify that report or prove to Ghanaians what shows the doctor is mentally ill,” said Collins Kizito, a member of a civil society organisation.

Don’t go alone — Amnesty International advises FBI

Amnesty International Ghana (AIG) has its radar now focused on the matter, especially on the outcome of Wednesday’s evaluation. In the view of Amnesty International, Dr. Ibrahim should not go alone for the assessment.

“When he’s going for the assessment, he should not go alone. He should go with someone who can give an independent view of what happens at the assessment he is going for. He should find someone he can trust, if possible a lawyer or a mental health professional, who can give an independent view of that process,” AIG’s Director, Robert Akoto Amoafo, told Starr News Friday.

Amnesty also indicated that it would help secure legal aid for FBI and would keep its eye on the process until justice was attained.

“What we are doing now is to provide him with legal assistance at the Legal Resources Centre. Another thing is to monitor the required process and, if need be, take the case to a higher level if he thinks the results from where the case is now are unfair.

“If it does not work at the Ghana Health Service level, we would go to the Minister for Health with him. And if that, too, does not work, it would up go another level where he would get access to justice,” Mr. Amoafo affirmed.

Meanwhile, some concerned medical doctors in Germany and the United Kingdom, psychiatrists included, have announced they will keep their ears on the ground with the intention of taking up the case themselves in case of any bias during and in the aftermath of the forthcoming assessment.

Journey to the Fifth Psychiatric Test

FBI is said to have spoken out some years ago against a reported attempt by some staff at the Effia Nkwanta Regional Hospital in the Western region to extort Gh¢50 from a poor couple whose daughter was in need of a blood transfusion.

The teenager, Patience Sakpetey, died on referral from the Prestea Government Hospital whilst her family was still searching everywhere to raise the blood transfusion fee allegedly demanded at the Effia Nkwanta Regional Hospital.

Her death prompted a media backlash that also left the public very much provoked against those hospital staff. This development, according to the very vocal doctor, and his subsequent stance against other forms of abuse of patients’ rights led to him being victimised and branded as mentally ill by some senior staff of the GHS.

He reportedly was compelled to undertake four psychiatric tests, all of which he said saw him cleared of any mental disorder. A professor of clinical psychology at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Araba Sefa-Dedeh, wrote back to the Western Regional Director of Health, Dr. Linda Vanotoo, in 2011 after Dr. Armah Aloo, the Director of the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital at the time, had referred FBI to that teaching hospital, indicating that Dr. Ibrahim was mentally fit to practise.

Not satisfied, the GHS headquarters issued a fresh directive for him to submit himself for further psychiatric assessment. He declined and was, as a result, handed an indefinite-suspension letter in 2012.

“I have been reduced to an animal with a fur and a tail,” an agonising Dr. Ibrahim, who now survives on alms, told Starr News last month.

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