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Opinions of Saturday, 2 July 2011

Columnist: Tagoe, Reggie

Who funds Government Hospitals in Ghana?

Perhaps, I should have first asked Ghana’s Minister of Health or the appropriate authourities in Ghana for an answer to the above question before writing this piece.
But whoever it is, the naked truth and what everyone in Ghana knows is that Government Hospitals are in shambolic mess. That health authourities at Ghana’s main Teaching Hospital in Accra (Korle-Bu) have suspended carrying out some medical operations because of lack of facilities clearly explains what the situation is at our hospitals.
Governments have come and gone - some have even promised what is beyond their capabilities all to win the votes of the people - yet they have no answer or know it but just don’t care about solving the dilapidating conditions at our hospitals. What Government officials do to avoid such hospitals is to fly out of the country to locations such as England, US or South Africa for their medical care when they are sick leaving the ordinary Ghanaian to fend for himself/herself. A minor illness could lead the person into an early grave. It’s pathetic but that’s the story and that's why I pat the shoulders of GaDangme Europe (natives from the Greater Accra Region, Ghana, residing in Europe) who recently sent a large consignment of hospital equipment, including beds, wheelchairs and medical operation materials to some Government Hospitals and Polyclinics in the Greater Accra Region. This is just a chip of the problem solved at the hospitals in the Region who benefited from the donation.
I cannot count the number of times Ghanaians in the diaspora have sent such donations to hospitals, institutions and communities back home – all in support of helping people. But in all these what do they get in return? They are slapped with high duty charges at the Ports when they send their personal goods home. The duty on one’s car is like telling the person the car is being back at double of thrice the price bought. It’s absurd!
A Ghanaian in the diaspora once told me on a visit to one psychiatric hospital in Accra and how he witnessed a very pathetic and demeaning scene of a patient brought to the hospital being dragged on the ground into the hospital. Reason? There is no wheelchair to take the poor patient in to be attended. This could make your blood run cold but for those at the hospital it’s a normal thing.
You may ask: What does it take, not an individual but a Government to provide a wheelchair for such a hospital? The answer is not far – the Government does not have money, so they say. Yet the lavish spendings by Government officials at unimportant travels and functions could blow your mind, they don’t worry about that becuase when they get sick they know where to go – abroad.
This callous and greedy attitude of our people in power is not helping to equip our hospitals and put right all along what we are getting wrong. Wouldn’t it have been better to have the necessary facilities at our hospitals so they can be taken care of than travelling abroad, mostly at the expense of the state, to have those medical attentions?
A friend’s mother died in a sad circumstance when rushed to the major Government Teaching Hospital in Accra. The health authourities for lack of an empty bed at the hospital to admit the patient directed the old lady be sent to another Government Hospital without even making checks whether the second hospital has a bed available.
Again there was no bed and they also directed she should be sent to another hospital – all these through a dense traffic in Accra with a taxi. Before 6p.m the old lady has passed away. It’s unbelievable how this can happen in a country that believes it has lived under Independence for over 50 years. Yet still, another reported case of a relative living abroad whose brother had a motor accident and was to be operated nearly died if the brother, living abroad, has not supplied basic medical operation materials including cotton wool from his base abroad to the hospital in Ghana. Another sad case of 3 children sleeping on one bed at the children’s ward of Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra (because the hospital doesn’t have enough beds) is too serious for the Government to overlook. What does it take to provide beds in our hospitals or a drip stand for which the lack of it people could lose their life? I am again asking.
Some of these stories are very disturbing and what is also also sad to note is, people we put in position of authourity to make our laws, to govern us, people we put there to run our affairs are people, mostly, who have lived abroad (the western world) or if not have seen it several times, they have seen how economies are run to cater for the welfare of its people. We may not be so close to that but they should learn something from these developed nations and go on to improving the lives of their people. We cannot go on like this.