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Opinions of Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Columnist: Awuni, Manasseh Azure

The Ayeboafos, the Vaahs and the Inusah Fuseinis are not alone

My eyes grew misty when I finished reading Mr. Yaw Boadu Ayeboafo’s article titled Solidarity with the Vaahs published in the Thursday April 15, edition of the Daily Graphic. Mr. Ayeboafo wrote that piece in solidarity with Mr. Thomas Vaah and Mrs. Elizabeth Vaah who had lost a baby boy at the Lister Hospital through the professional negligence of some staff of the hospital.

Mr. Ayeboafo recounted how, in 1999, his family suffered a similar fate in the hands of personnel of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital where his wife had gone to be delivered of her baby. Unlike the Vaahs, the Ayeboafos had their baby daughter but she would have to live with a mental deformity. According to Mr. Ayeboafo, he had to pay for the girl’s speech therapy and due to her condition, her school bills alone cost the family GH¢ 130, 000 or ¢130,000,000 annually. What would be the fate of this girl were she borne into the kind of family who do not know where their next meal would come from?

From the narration, it is clear that what has bedeviled the family of the learned Yaw Boadu Ayeboafo (learned in the true sense of the word learned, and not that he’s a lawyer) could have been prevented if someone had been a little more careful and adherent to the medical code of ethics. Authorities of the Lister Hospital have denied the allegations leveled by the Vaahs but the truth is that thousands of people suffer from suchlike medical personnel all over the country, especially those in the rural areas.

Just as the Vaahs and the Ayeboafo’s stories were about to recede into forgettable news archives, the Deputy Minister of Energy and MP for Tamale Central, Hon. Inusah Fuseini, lost his wife at the Police Hospital. Many people, including President J.E.A. Mills, have called for investigation into the alleged professional misconduct that led to the death of Mrs. Fuseini.

The current trend is very unfortunate and health authorities have to put stringent measures in place to cleanse the health of profession of all unrighteousness.

I believe the health profession is a calling and it is disastrous when people rush into it just because of the perception that health professionals are the highly paid workers in the country. When such people finally come to terms with the reality on the ground, they patients have to pay for the frustrations in the profession. I used to think medical doctors were paid so much until I wrote that in one of my articles on the internet. A medical doctor at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital wrote to me trying to correct the erroneous perception that doctors are paid so much but the figure he quoted as his monthly take-home salary was incredibly meagre. I wrote back saying, then that it would be a headline story if that was really his salary. Determined to tell me that I had all along been wrong, the medical doctor scanned his pay slip and emailed it to. “This is your headline story,” he wrote. I still do not believe it is true and I want to get more facts before I write on the subject.

To me every profession is a calling, but the health profession is even more serious. No matter how much one promises to pay me, I cannot become a medical doctor or nurse. I’m allergic to blood and anytime I visit the hospital, I lose appetite for many hours, sometimes days. It is something I cannot just do, no matter the motivation. I think those who are like me should stay away from that profession. We cannot gamble with human life.

Many years ago, our forebears had no hospitals but traditional birth attendants were so meticulous in their duty that death during delivery was minimal. These days, however, one has to fast and pray when one gets one’s wife pregnant. However, all health workers cannot be lumped together when some of these things occur. When you meet a health professional dedicated to his/her duty – and there are so many of them – you will swear you have met an angel. It is good we encourage those ones and call on the miscreants, who have succeeded in making hospitals and health facilities the last place one would like to visit, to change for the better.

Thousands of voiceless people fall victim to such reckless actions daily. They have no one to speak for them. But what the health professionals should note is that there can never be a more severe sin than taking the lives of people, and babies as that.

And whatever we do and wherever we do it, we cannot escape the watchful eyes of the ageless old man above the azure skies. In his appointed time, he’ll reward us for our deeds. Both good and bad.

Credit: Manasseh Azure Awuni [www.maxighana.com] Email: azureachebe2@yahoo.com The writer is the SRC President of the Ghana Institute of Journalism and Press and Information Secretary of the Ghana Institute of Journalism. To read more of his writings visit www.maxighana.com