A few days ago, a friend sadly told me about how his brother’s son has suddenly fallen sick—so bad that he has grown unreasonably thin within a short period. The child was in unending pain, he said.
When I asked him what the cause was and whether he was responding to treatment, he said he had been referred to Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Ghana’s largest and flagship health centre.
However, that wasn’t all, at Korle-Bu, they’ve been told that a certain medical testing needs to be carried out to ascertain what the problem is but samples of the child’s blood must be flown to South Africa, where the needed medical equipment for the testing can be found.
I thought the child’s case was special, an isolated case which Korle-Bu was not placed to deal with. But I soon learnt that the South Africa medical testing is nothing special, it’s, in fact, common at Korle-Bu and numerous people seeking health care have had to do this.
So I asked myself this: a whole country that’s able to spend millions of dollars on football (which is largely a luxury), recently spent about 72 million dollars on SSNIT’s database software and has paid millions of dollars in wrong judgement debts to people we are unable to retrieve the money from cannot afford to provide a single holistic home based healthcare centre for its citizens and no one in authority seems to think there’s something wrong with this.
When I raised this issue on Facebook, the conversation got really interesting, albeit deeply worrying.
Augustina Atibu wrote; “It is true my brother’s wife who was sick has to do a test in South Africa which was very expensive. She died a month ago at Korlebu .It is really sad If you don’t have money in Ghana you will die prematurely.”
A practising medical doctor-Assiamah Frank commented;
“Vincent I wish u would see my comment, per wat you said trust me it’s really true, this is my experience, I’m a young eye doctor, I graduated this year, Vincent over the years, there are certain eye conditions that doctors have diagnosed to the extent of even putting their patients on medications which have come out to be ‘wrong’
How did I knw? My current place, is a private eye hospital, which has a lot of advanced machines or diagnostic machines available, until they came to Ghana most of their machines are still not in Ghana not even the big hospitals Korle-bu or Kath…
So before their existence, the machines available were thou helping to diagnosed but most of them weren’t reliable…. It’s not as of the doctors don’t know but our machines are old in the system, modern machines ain’t in d system, I have met a client that the person has been on medication for the said diagnosis for over 25 years but with dis modern and advanced machines, it revealed that he was okay and normal.
Just last week, I met a woman who has been on medication for a certain treatment for over 8 yrs but using the new machines, it revealed she is normal so we have to stop her from using it…..
To be Honest, this practice goes on bkos most of the most advanced machines ain’t available so the doctors in a way are working manually… They knw wat they are doing… So in certain cases they take risk to put a client on drugs rather than leaving to go….
The government should provide well-advanced machines to our various hospitals… For those in the rural areas are on even worse. .. That’s my humble opinion and wat I have seen so far on the field… Will grant u any answer wenever u need.”
Priscilla Tetteh also wrote: “My uncle’s blood sample was taken to South Africa… And till now I don’t even know the results of it cos he is even dead ND buried long time. Ghana must rise to its feet.”
Eddie Speller Nassar said we are a joke and I wholly agree with him. He stated: “61 years of “independence “, very old hospitals, many “ministers of health ” and here we are. Talking about equipment (many of which have been stolen from our hospitals under the noses of security) our leaders don’t have clue why they are there. None wants to leave a legacy. Hospitals are huge foreign exchange earners if well equipped. We just can’t manage anything right. Sorry I forget we are funny people.”
Millicent Asiamah had this to say: “My grandma went through that. Her blood sample had to be taken to South Africa for testing a few years ago.”
So everyone seems to know about this and yet we wake up each day to spend huge amounts of cash on things such as building SSNIT database. If the population cannot afford healthcare, who would live to enjoy the pension benefits the SSNIT database is to provide?
The basic necessities of a civilised society can be summed up as; food, healthcare, education and security. Any other thing is secondary. But in Ghana, healthcare is a matter of how rich or poor you are.
And this is not about the National Health Insurance Scheme or any of the political gimmicks, it’s about having the right equipment or machines in place to deal effectively with those who need whatever testing or diagnosis.
Think about the cost of having to have your blood flown to South Africa from Ghana for medical testing—how many ordinary Ghanaians can even afford this?
Imagine the citizens’ uproar that would engulf the UK if there was this particular healthcare machine or equipment out there for sale, which the UK claims it cannot afford to buy it. And would rather send blood samples to the USA for testing while spending millions of pounds on national football or birthday parties.
For many years, Ghanaian politicians have taken the citizens for granted and this wouldn’t end anything time soon. But at least, they should have some sort of conscience and equip the various healthcare centres with the needed machines for the ordinary Ghana, while they continue to fly to the UK and South Africa for their medical treatments.
And it’s not just Ghana, Nigeria and several of these African countries are the same. The current President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari has literally relocated to London for medical reasons.
It’s pathetic that heads of state of rich countries such as Nigeria and Ghana have to constantly fly out to other countries for medical treatments, leaving those who cannot afford, the majority, to die back home when they fall sick—simply because they refuse to invest in our healthcare system.
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