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Opinions of Sunday, 13 June 2010

Columnist: Adongo, Richard

Somebody, Please Help Me, I Am……

In recent times, not a single day passes without one either hearing or seeing from our radio or television sets, appeals from desolate people for help in one way or the other to enable them go through treatment from our health facilities.
Indeed it used to be the case that the host of a programme or the DJ would put in a word or two during the course of his programme about an individual who desperately needs help from the public, be it in cash or in kind for an operation…It seems that this approach is notoriously losing ground with the philanthropic public as their reluctance is now reminiscent of Eneke the bird who has learnt to fly without perching. The media has also adopted the strategy of now putting their appeal in the form of very touching and melancholic documentaries or short illustratives in a bid to also shoot without missing.
What really beats my imagination is the absurdly high cost of the treatment of some of the ailments which understandably pushes these people to get out into the public and ask for help. The cost ranges from GH¢3000 to as high as GH ¢8,000. Now guess what, those asking for this kind of money are from public funded or should I say public resourced health facilities. And the worst culprits are Korle-Bu Teaching hospital and Komfo Anokye Teaching hospital. Occasionally the 37 Military hospital has also had to do that.
The thing is this, the doctors who treat the patients in our hospitals most of the time educated and trained with the taxpayers money albeit partly, to become the people they are today, why then should they viciously, maliciously and inhumanly demand so much money from these helpless destitute Ghanaians who appear before them for help. Secondly, the hospitals in which they operate their trade or is it profession are resourced by government. Government provides them with the logistics which they need to work with through the Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Services.
That being the case, why should these hospitals and their doctors look straight into the eyes of the sick and afflicted and condemn them to their second death after the first condemnation from their ailments? Where do these monies go? Do they go to the individual pockets of the doctors and health personnel who have performed the operations and procedures? Or do the monies go to the hospital as Internally Generated Funds? Better still, I would like to know who or which group of people sanctioned the collections of these monies. I would very much want to know if it is the doctors responsible for the particular case who fixes the charge for a surgery or it is the hospital management. I would also want to know if the boards and management of the hospitals are in the know of these charges. Finally and more importantly, I would want to know what the Ministry of health is doing about this nonsense going on in our big hospitals.
It would be recalled that the president in his usual manner of paying surprise visits to government agencies and departments went to the Korle Bu teaching hospital to see things for himself. He was hit by one of the rudest shocks in his life when realized that the lifts at the hospital were not functioning. He therefore immediately ordered the Minister of health to as a matter of urgency to see to it that the problem was rectified within the shortest possible time. Here again, where were the big and lofty sums of money capriciously extorted from beneficiaries of the big time surgeries? Why didn’t the hospital use part of those monies to restore the lifts?
I would want to see the day that these doctors of ours would on their own volition perform a high cost surgery for free, either as an act of social responsibility or as a means of giving back to society what society has given to them. For if I am not mistaken, statistics have it that it costs the government, and by extension the tax payer of Ghana, including the very people who are handled mercilessly and with scorn when they get sick and come to the hospital, an average of GH¢ 35000 per student per annum to see the doctor through medical school.
I would therefore be grateful and glad indeed if the power(s) that be or the duty bearers responsible for this outrageous charges being slapped on patience can come out to justify what in my candid opinion are very unfortunate subtle ways of denying treatment to some Ghanaians when they need it at the most critical moment.