There is an Akan proverb which is loosely translated into English as follows; if you did not hear the night rainfall, didn’t you observe that the ground was wet when you woke up?” Simply put, individuals or policy makers can give excuses for their mistaken actions yesterday but cannot do same for the repetition of the same mistakes today or tomorrow. This however cannot be said about Ghana as a nation. We seem to be repeating the same mistakes we made yesterday but expect different outcomes than those of yesterday. How can that be possible?
For the purposes of argument, I am going to restrict myself to only one section of the Ghanaian economy to wit; the health sector. Since independence, government has consistently paid salaries for all government hospital workers till today, government has provided all the needed infrastructure and even medicines most of the time yet all these hospitals charge huge fees to patients who use their services. All those fees notwithstanding, the hospitals cry to government for equipments, infrastructure and worse of all increased salaries. If this arrangement is not a recipe for disaster, then I don’t know what disaster in that regard could be.
If a Ghanaian father continues to put money in the pocket of his adult children, provide three square meals for them daily and give them all they need in life whilst they the children don’t work, I bet that every Ghanaian will quickly jump into conclusion that the father is spoiling his children. Yet that is the exact relationship between government and the hospitals in the country. Government sponsors them in everything they do. They are never self financing, even their uniforms are paid for by government and yet government expects them to perform better, how possible can that be?
If I know that my salary is independent of my performance at work, where is the motivation to turn out my best? If my treatment of the patient before me can not in anyway affect, my chance to practice my profession, cannot affect my salary, why should I care about the service I give to the patient? It might sound absurd to say that doctors and nurses in Ghana don’t really care when patients die at their hands, yet that is the sad truth. Our hospitals are full of doctors and nurses whose actions and inactions kill patients on daily basis yet they go home peacefully to their families as if nothing had happened at their work places. No sanctions, not even reprimanding them when they misbehave. Otherwise, why would a distress call to a trained.doctor to come quickly and attend to motor accident victims be answered with “ I will come after I finish my beer”. Is this not the height of insanity? This can never happen in any white man’s country but is a daily occurrence in the black man’s world. All because whether the doctor works or not, he or she will be paid at the end of the month. In any society where reward of labor is not related to productivity, that is what happens.
If we didn’t know this yesterday, at least, today we are privy to this canker that is killing us but our inability to effect the necessary change means that we shall continue to die at the hands of these heartless medical professionals until thy kingdom come. We can build more of Legon medical center and scatter the likes of ridge hospital across the whole of Ghana yet nothing will change unless policy makers sit up and tackle the problem headlong, nothing can be achieved and I am sorry to say that, government can continue to pour good money after bad money year after year, nothing positive would come out of our hospitals.
Let the hospitals be self financing, let them pay their own doctors and nurses for two years and see if we can not begin to observe the changes we all want to see. Do you wonder why private hospitals are doing better than government hospitals? It is all because doctors and nurses there know that their performance bring more patients to their hospitals and more patients means more money to pay staff hence they put up their best. The problem of Ghana is not money but management at all levels including government.