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Opinions of Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Columnist: Ayisi, Gabriel A.

Baah-Wiredu's Death & Lack of First Class Hospital

Mr. Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu Didn’t Have to Die.
Ghana Needs First Class Hospitals of World Standard.

“50 million dollars for Ghana’s 50th Jubilee Celebrations which has not been properly accounted for by Dr. Wireko Brobbey.”

“Another 50 million dollars for a Presidential Palace.”

The late Baah Wiredu would be alive today if we had used the above to build a world class medical facility or facilities equipped with every conceivable first class medical equipment and device available anywhere in the world. It is ridiculous that a country, the caliber of Ghana, cannot boast of first class and excellently equipped hospitals where every Ghanaian can be treated for his or her ailments.

Our politicians and policy makers must be ashamed and stand accused of traveling outside the country for medical treatments when the ordinary Ghanaian, the tax payer, is left to his/her fate to be treated at our ill-equipped and outdated hospitals. They must be faulted for having neglected the country’s health sector. They have chosen to neglect the welfare of the health sector by refusing to equip and resource our hospitals adequately to enable them to handle all sorts of medical emergencies effectively, efficiently, and effortlessly.

The Asantehene, the Okyehene, and our politicians are all mute on the subject, but let one of them be stricken and they are all out of the country to treat themselves at prohibitive medical fees footed by the tax payer, who is left to die unnecessarily at our dying hospital when he/she is gravely stricken. Some medical conditions are emergencies and need to be attended to instantly within hours or within a few days. Traveling abroad for such cases steals valuable time and death could easily occur.

Public Health Education.

Not only should we build and equip our hospitals with the latest medical technologies, but we should also start educating the public about healthy living habits. The ministry of health together with our medical professionals must educate the masses about such diseases as high blood pressure, hypertension, stroke, aneurisms, heart failures/attacks, diabetes, colon cancer, colorectal cancer, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, breast cancer, stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer, etc., most of which are preventable if we practice healthy living, by exercising, quitting smoking, drinking moderately, eating well balanced foods, avoiding fatty and deep fried foods, etc. Ghanaians must incorporate lots of vegetables and fruits in their diets. There is no such thing as beer belly which, unfortunately, is associated with living well in Ghana. Being pot bellied is very dangerous and can kill even you. It is unfortunate that due to lack of adequate public education and information in most developing countries, bad health, protracted illnesses, and sudden death are attributed to the supernatural or witchcraft. I hope this booklet will educate and encourage people to live healthy lifestyles and seek early and preventive treatment from Physicians and other health care professionals. The diseases mentioned above are given funny names in our local dialects that make us take them lightly without the seriousness required.

Decongesting our cities.

Furthermore, not only do we need first class hospitals, but we also need to be able to get to them within seconds and minutes. There is no sense having first class hospitals if we cannot get to them in time, and especially so, during emergencies. For this to be possible, we need to declog and decongest our cities by building new roads/streets/avenues to make intra-city travel porous. This would allow ambulances, the police, the fire service, and other security agencies to attend to medical emergencies and security related emergencies rapidly. In most parts of our cities, some buildings must be pulled down to make way for the new roads or we must resort, in combination, to highways raised above the cities and circling our cities with convenient exists to various parts of the cities. We may even consider tunnels. There is no reason why it should take two to three hours for one to drive to High Street from Legon or East Legon during rush hours on most days. When traveling within the city becomes porous it will lead to less pollution resulting from idling automobiles, which in turn will save motorists and the country millions of gas/petrol that are wasted on our clogged up city streets. It will also lead to an increase in national productivity as labor will not be wasted sitting unproductive on our city streets and getting to work around 10 am instead of 8 am. Let us remember that “The goal in life is to die young as late as possible” - Ashley Montagu.

Dr. Gabriel Ayisi, New York Author of “Power Aging through Healthy living Practices” – in print.