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Opinions of Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Columnist: Adofo, Rockson

Asantehene Identifies With The Suffering Masses

On 5th August 2014, it was reported on Ghanaweb that Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II on a subsidiary, although fact finding, mission, travelled from Kumasi to Accra by road. For the first time since his ascendency to the Golden Stool, probably, he abandoned the comfort and safety of air travel, to travel the four-hour journey from Kumasi to Accra. He gave the presidential jet and other commercial aircrafts a clean break.

He was actually on a principal mission to honour an invitation by the Ghana Journalist Association to address their 19th awards event as the principal Guest Speaker. However, he decided to check for himself the state and the safety of the number one national road linking Kumasi to Accra.

The road has severally been reported to be a death trap; bumpy, some sections inundated with potholes and parts of it still under nearly abandoned construction. It is good that he decided to have a personal view of the state of the road to ascertain its dangerous state.

The question now is, after familiarising himself properly with the road, confirming its inherent dangers to life and the longer duration (four hours) it takes to complete that comparatively short mileage of road (as against roads in Europe), what will he do about it? Will he lobby the government to speed up the construction works on the road? Will he avail himself of his special friendship with President Mahama to get it done as quickly as possible? Why has he waited until now to check for himself the bad state of the road?

Whatever his answers to the questions are, let us give him credit and the benefit of the doubt. He has done well for taking the risk like any other ordinary Ghanaian who has no choice, but is compelled to travel down the dangerous road.

May I request of him the following, if he really cares about his subjects in Ashanti region? It has been reported on the airwaves and in private the astonishing ravaging effect of the NHIS Capitation on the people of Ashanti region. This trial pilot scheme/programme meant for a short period, and if it was successful, would have been rolled out all over Ghana was for a long time, and is still, in operation, only in Ashanti region since its introduction. Many people have died, and are still dying because of the refusal of hospitals and doctors in Ashanti region to accept the NHIS capitated budget earmarked for the programme.

After much clamouring, following the subjection of only Ashanti region to the adverse, amid lethal, effects, of the programme (NHIS Capitation) for twenty-six months, the government has rolled it out in three more other regions, Volta, Upper West and Upper East.

Why did Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II not do anything about it all the while that it was discovered to be killing his subjects? Or, he has now learnt a bitter lesson from his nonchalant attitude to the needs and cries of his people which resulted in people castigating him openly in public and on the airwaves?

What is the much talked about NHIS Capitation budget, one may ask? It is simply a payment system under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). It seeks to offer pre-determined advance payment fee at fixed rate to healthcare service providers for individuals enrolled on the NHIS for a fixed period of time for certain defined illnesses. For all those particularised illnesses within the agreed period, if a person enrolled on the scheme goes to hospital or not, regardless of the number of times they go to hospital within the specified time frame, the government will pay the service provider same fixed amount.

The people of Kumawuman are suffering from lack of basic amenities. There are no public toilets but fewer home toilets. No potable water (chemically treated water) for over thirty years etc. Even though Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II does not go there personally, his planted informers do inform him about what goes on in Kumawu, to be precise.

People are dying from the locality from contaminated water. People die of typhoid fever, cholera and common fever among others like diabetes and hypertension. Will Asantehene go there to familiarise himself with the problems facing Kumawuman as I keep on hammering or he will continue to rely on his informants while Kumawu continues to suffer annihilation accruing from human negligence by the traditional rulers?

I congratulate Asantehene for abandoning the aircraft to rather travel to Accra by road, for once. I hope his much publicised mode of travel this time around was not merely a publicity stunt but will bring about the desired benefits to the people of Ghana, especially those plying the Kumasi-Accra road.

Rockson Adofo