Feature Article of Thursday, 21 June 2012

Columnist: The Statesman

Medical Treatment or Check-up?

The Wise folks of Dagbon have a wise saying which goes like this: "Indecision is like a maltreated step child. When he's not given water to wash his hands they call him a dirty boy and when he tries to do so they accuse him of wasting water".

Ever since President Mills left the shores of the country for a “routine medical check-up” in the United States, proponents of government have taken the flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party to task over his use of the word “treatment” instead of the President’s words of “medical check-up.”

Nana Akufo-Addo’s use of the word “treatment” has been a source of worry for the ruling National Democratic Congress and its functionaries. Let us, therefore, delve into the medical definitions of these two words and find out if indeed Nana Akufo-Addo meant any mischief.

The medical profession defines 'check-up' and 'treatment' as follows:

MEDICAL CHECK-UP is the process by which a doctor/medical team investigates the body of a patient for signs of disease. It generally follows the taking of the medical history — an account of the symptoms as experienced by the patient. Together with the medical history, the physical examination aids in determining the correct diagnosis and devising the treatment plan. This data then becomes part of the medical record.

MEDICAL TREATMENT: It is the care and management of a patient to combat, ameliorate, or prevent a disease, disorder, or injury. It is also a method of combating, ameliorating, or preventing a disease, disorder, or injury. Treatment may be pharmacological, using drugs; surgical, involving operative procedures; or supportive, building the patient's strength. It may be specific for the disorder, or symptomatic to relieve symptoms without effecting a cure.

Thus from the above, it is clear that President Mills’ “medical check-up” would aid his doctors check his body for signs of disease, determine the correct diagnosis, by first taking into account his medical record, and then and devising a treatment or situation management plan.

It is an open secret that President Mills is not well. He has a medical record. Indeed, when he met the press in 2010, he said, “My only problem is sinus which I have suffered for years but God is keeping me alive.” Deputy Minister of Tourism, Baba Jamal, stated categorically in a meeting with US Embassy officials in the run-up to the December 2008 polls that President Mills has throat cancer.

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, let the cat out of the bag when he said “Foreign medical checkups are normally for second and third opinions which are allowed and they will come normally from the professionals who normally recommend the second opinion and this is what is happening in this instance.”

The question, therefore, is why will Mills go for a second opinion if there wasn’t a serious issue with his health. Indeed, the trip seems to have happened so suddenly that it is impossible to convince anyone that this was a planned and routine medical check-up. In any event, a second opinion, as stated by Okudzeto Ablakwa rules out a "routine check-up".

By the time a second or third opinion is required, doctors know exactly what the problem might be. Doctors would have identified a likely agent of illness and thus it cannot be true that President Mills is going for a routine check-up.

There is no human being on this earth who is immune to sickness. Everyone falls ill and there is no shame in it. So we can, therefore, not understand the defensive posture the ruling NDC and its functionaries is putting up with regards to the health of our President.