Catholic Bishop In Court
THE Catholic Bishop of the Navrongo-Bolgatanga Diocese, Most Rev. Lucas Abadamlora, has been dragged to a Tamale High Court by Rural Medicare Programme, a CBO, over an issue concerning the ownership of the closed Binde Hospital.
The plaintiff is seeking an injunction restraining the Catholic Church from holding itself as owner of the facility, which it said was built through communal labour by members of the Binde community in the late 1970s.
It is also appealing to the court to ensure the immediate reopening of the hospital to save lives of residents.
A misunderstanding between the Navrongo-Bolgatanga Catholic Diocese and the community-based non-governmental organization, Rural Medicare, on the rightful owner of the Binde Hospital in the Bunkpurugu-Yunyoo District of the Northern Region, led to the closure of the facility last year.
This compelled patients on admission and out-patients to resort to medical attention elsewhere.
The facility, which is the only recognized hospital in the district, prior to its closure, was serving 30,000 people from 314 communities in the district as well as patients from neighbouring Togo and Burkina Faso.
Forty deaths had so far been recorded in Binde and its surrounding communities since the hospital was closed down, for lack of early medical attention.
The facility, according to pieces of information made available to DAILY GUIDE, started operating in 1979 upon the request of the youth of Binde through an erstwhile Town Development Committee and the then chief of Binde, Pib-Rana Miniya Sugri, who allocated a parcel of land for the construction of the healthcare facility.
A three-room clinic was therefore constructed between 1979 and 1988.
The residents afterwards became financially and materially exhausted, a development which hindered the scheduled completion of the clinic.
Upon extensive appeals for assistance through a Spaniard Missionary who was assigned to the area, one Rev. Fr. Bonnet, in a letter dated 18th July 1988, an intervention was obtained.
An agreement was entered into between the priest and the community to enable him to source assistance from his hometown (Minorca in the Kingdom of Spain) on behalf of the community for the completion of the project, after which it was to be handed over to the community.
Based on the agreement, the priest interacted with various institutions and individuals in his hometown and various forms of support were given for the completion of the project.
The Catholic Church, it is learnt, was contacted to facilitate the registration of the hospital.
The hospital was then registered under the Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG), which has since been managing the activities of the hospital with the Catholic priest and a few community members.
The church collaborated with the Ghana Health Service (GHS) in 1996 and health workers were posted to the hospital.
At the same time, the community-based NGO also came forward to partner with the Town Development Committee in the substantive administration of the facility, which did not meet the agreement of the Catholics.
Upon the directives of the GHS, the hospital employed the services of a hospital administrator and an accountant to make it a full-fledged hospital.
Fr. Manola Bonet, the Spaniard Missionary who is the major brain behind the development of the hospital, told DAILY GUIDE after the closure of the facility that the hospital belonged to the community and not the church.
According to him, he was contacted by the community to source funding for the completion of a project which the community had already initiated.
The Man of God disclosed that the elders of the community, in a letter dated 18th July 1988, entered into a contractual agreement with him to enable him to source assistance from his hometown on behalf of the community for the completion of the project after which it was to be handed over to the community.
The Catholic Church, he explained, thought because he was a missionary, any project he embarked on was for the church.
“Their failure to set up their proposed 80-bed hospital in the same community for which a land had been acquired, should not deprive the people of their toil,” he remarked.
He had since vacated the hospital premises pending the outcome of the court proceedings.
Meanwhile, this paper had gathered that the CBO had sent for the donors to testify against the church.
From Stephen Zoure, Tamale