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Opinions of Sunday, 1 April 2012

Columnist: Adofo, Rockson

How Logical was the Strike by the KATH junior Doctors?

A few days ago, the junior Doctors at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi embarked on a strike. I may not have taken it kindly to their strike if I had not heard them explain their reasons why, on radio, prior to embarking on the action. I was supportive of their action although I received it with mixed feelings. I can explain away in two ways my oxymoronic attitude to their strike. Please note that they have since resumed duty with renewed vigour.

Firstly, I have noticed of late that Ghana medical staffs with doctors inclusive resort to strike action in search of better conditions of service. As we speak, the Pharmacists have declared a nationwide strike intending to obtain better wage packages. They have come to see strike as the most effective weapon to wield when the terrain of negotiations becomes undulated, tipping lopsidedly to their disadvantage. I shed tears whenever Ghana doctors embark on strike. The memories of my late mother of blessed memory hit me hard like a thunder with the accompanying lightning strike. She fell ill at a time that Ghana doctors were on strike as usual, in the year 2005. Even though she had a better private hospital care, at a point, she needed superior medical assistance that only Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital could provide. As that care was not forthcoming at that material time, because the KATH doctors were on strike, my mother passed. Not only that, the daughter of a woman-pastor I know also died a week before my mum. Her parents had taken her to Effiduase hospital when she was in labour. She was pregnant of twins. She was in difficulty delivering the second twin-child after the first had come many hours ago. The doctors of Effiduase referred her to Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kumasi. When she got there, there was no doctor to help her so she died during the night.

Ghana medical doctors/staff are unfeeling towards patients when they are on strike. They never have compassion regardless the critical health needs of the patient. They will let him or her die. One will normally expect them to show a bit of human face, thus, sympathy towards a patient in critical condition but they do not.

Secondly, I was a bit in support of the recent strike by the junior doctors at KATH. Their strike had this time around nothing to do with their conditions of service but all to do with the welfare of patients or the protection of human life. This is how one will obviously expect of doctors all things being equal. The hospital had completely run out of everything that a doctor may need to treat his/her patients. Medical consumables had completely run out of stock. Medical equipment had broken down. The NDC government of President Mills with their probably malicious agenda against the Ashantis had in place a nonchalant Medical Chief Executive who intentionally oversaw the rot. He sat with his arms folded around the chest, a pen in his mouth and probably picking his nose while the hospital was gradually collapsing around him. About three days or four into the strike that other senior doctors joined, the Minister for Health allocated GHC2 Million to the hospital. If they had not taken that selfless action which though resulted in the death of some patients, the government will have callously sat down leading to the deaths of a greater number of people.

In all this, what were those Ashantis in government doing? In addition, what did all those Ashantis purportedly holding the power of death and life over their compatriots do? They did nothing. Have the NDC by secretive agenda earmarked Ashantis for systematic elimination from the surface of Ghana? I just do not understand many things going on there, which do not make sense to me.

I salute the bravado of the junior doctors. Thanks to them, KATH will be in full swing. Nevertheless, I will admonish them to ensure at least the Accident and Emergency departments of all government hospitals throughout Ghana function fully whenever doctors go on strike for whatever reason. This is my personal appeal to them.