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Opinions of Sunday, 15 July 2018

Columnist: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Kobby Mensah is addressing the wrong government official

The original version of this column was mistakenly shredded and chucked into the garbage with the draft of another column that I had already published early this morning. The published one regarded the fact of whether, indeed, there was any need for President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to follow through with his landmark decision of creating six additional regions in the country.

The one that I am recreating presently had Dr. Kobby Mensah, of the University of Ghana’s School of Business, livid and bitterly decrying the reasons given by Mr. Robert Cudjoe, the Public Relations Officer of the country’s flagship health center, the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), for the increasing inability of Ghana’s oldest and largest hospital to handle the intake of patients that Korle-Bu gets confronted with every year.

According to Mr. Cudjoe, it is not simply that the country’s population growth over the last couple of decades has not been met with the necessary expansion and state-of-the-art equipment of the 92-year-old hospital, but that Ghanaians, by and large, are giving birth at such a runaway pace or scale that if great care is not taken, the capacity of Korle-Bu and many of the other major hospitals in the country may very well collapse and with it the entire public healthcare system in this country of just under 30 million people (See “Deal with Incompetent Ministry of Health PRO – Akufo-Addo Told” Classfmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 7/12/18).

In the original version of this column, I note that Dr. Mensah errs almost as egregiously as the Korle-Bu PRO because as a lecturer or professor of Business Management or Business Administration, the critic ought to have known that when the PRO of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, a civil servant and a nonexecutive public employee, breaches his professional code of ethics, it is not the President of the Democratic Republic of Ghana who is called upon to discipline the target of one’s complaint. Rather, the first step in the chain of command to petition to have the Korle-Bu Hospital’s PRO sanctioned is the hospital’s administrator. You do not call or address either the President of Ghana or even Mr. Kwaku Agyemang Manu, the Minister of Health, or even the Director-General of the Ghana Medical Services, Dr. Nsiah Asare. Equally significant, I noted in the original version of this column that the response given by Mr. Cudjoe, vis-à-vis the acute population pressure on the medical resources and facilities of Korle-Bu, was not totally remiss or out of order.

There is, indeed, something meaningful or productive to be said for Family Planning in the country or the strategic use of contraceptives or birth-control pills or tablets. But in reality, a more constructive approach to the problem of Korle-Bu’s operational capacity ought to have been for the hospital’s PRO, Mr. Cudjoe, to have conducted some research, even casual research, to ascertain the fact of whether, indeed, it is primarily undue population pressure that is taking such a functionally incapacitating toll on Korle-Bu or, rather, it is the glaring fact that our politicians and community leaders have not been giving the requisite attention and funding support to not only Korle-Bu but most of the country’s major hospitals and health centers as a whole. Or it could be a mischievous combination of both underfunding and the reproduction of humans at an unacceptably exponential rate.

As Korle-Bu’s PRO, Mr. Cudjoe ought to be familiar with the principles of diplomacy, which counsels the imperative need for him to explain to a reasonably and an understandably wistful public that the authorities of the hospital were working hard to meet the unusually high demands of a fast-increasing population on the resources of the hospital. Blaming the victim ought to be the last step in the job description of the PRO of any reputable establishment. Either Mr. Cudjoe has become too comfortable with his job as to have unhealthily arrived at the lunatic fringe of invincibility, or it is just that the man has simply lost touch with the practical demands of the job, in which case he may do himself great good by seriously considering either voluntary retirement or resignation or expect to be fired in the offing. I don’t know the man; neither have I followed his allegedly wayward rants in the studious manner in which Dr. Mensah appears to have done.

Nonetheless, I can readily vouch for the imperative need for Mr. Cudjoe to be ordered by his boss to undergo some form of professional and/or psychological counseling. If Korle-Bu’s PRO does not see anything wrong with the perennially poor funding of our public healthcare system, then, of course, there must be something fundamentally amiss with his thinking cap, as it were.

In short, what I sincerely see happening here in order to set things right is for the government to both mount a massive campaign on contraception and the imperative need for population control, on the one hand, and the equally imperative need to providing adequate funding for our national healthcare system. As well, I counseled the need for the government to cultivate a good working relationship with the private healthcare industry, in particular regarding the management of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

*Visit my blog at: kwameokoampaahoofe.wordpress.com Ghanaffairs