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31.07.2022 Feature Article

This Cash-and-Carry Ambulance System Is Untenable – Part 2

This Cash-and-Carry Ambulance System Is Untenable – Part 2
31.07.2022 LISTEN

In reality, the ravages of grinding immiseration or penury ought not to have either determined or dictated the mode of transportation of the newly Caesarean-sectioned or nonvaginal delivered mother at the Fijai Government Hospital to the nearest most suitable or most competent major corrective-treatment center. In other words, rather than have the dying newly delivered mother transported by road some 132 miles from Sekondi-Takoradi, the Western Regional Capital, to the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, in Accra, the patient could have been more comfortably, humanely, conveniently and swiftly transported by air, very likely by helicopter, which would have covered the relatively shorter distance of 113 miles in just a little over one hour. You see, in the age of the much-vaunted delivery of medical supplies via drone technology, this is what the government and the Director of the National Ambulance Service (NAS), Dr. Ahmed Zakaria, ought to be thinking and talking about.

For instance, when he recently appeared before the Parliamentary Health Committee, Dr. Zakaria is reported to have confirmed the widely alleged charge that it was the woeful inability of the husband of the deceased newly delivered Fijai mother to pay upfront the fuel cost of GH₵ 600 that likely directly resulted in the death of his wife, and not the equally confirmed report that in the process of transporting the patient to the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, her newly delivered baby had been left behind at the Fijai Hospital, a professional act of gross negligence that was tantamount to gross incompetence and dereliction on the part of the staff involved in the treatment of the deceased. Now, it is witheringly clear that a Presidential Executive Order is promptly and urgently needed to address the dire need for human lives to be prioritized in Ghana in emergency healthcare situations where the means of transportation of a dying patient is reckoned to be as significant as the recommended treatment itself.

It is almost certain that if the dying patient had been transported from the Fijai Government Hospital by helicopter, or by air, for that matter, instead of by road, she would have had a far greater chance for survival, the relatively “prohibitive” cost involved in the air-transportation process notwithstanding. The fact of the matter is that irrespective of class and/or economic status, each and every human life, and even animal life, hereabouts in the United States of America, at least, is of equal value and importance in principle or as a principle of morality. In short, if Ghana, as a country, and Ghanaians, as a prime species of humanity, want to be recognized and counted among the vanguard ranks of advanced and civilized democracies, then we need to significantly review and revise the level and the kind of treatment we accord to human life.

And now, talking about the urgent need for President Akufo-Addo to promptly issue an Emergency Executive Order addressing situations like the Fijai Hospital Tragedy, perhaps the ex-gratia-drunken Members of Ghana’s Parliament will do well to consider promptly passing a law to address the kind of avoidable tragedy that is being presently herein discussed, an unfortunate incident that is all too common and a riotously rampant occurrence all over the country. We also strongly disagree with Dr. Ahmed Zakaria about the scandalous failure of the National Ambulance Service to conduct an internal probe into the aforesaid tragedy in the immediate aftermath of the same. We fully appreciate the rationale behind his assertion about the NAS’ not wanting to play or act as a referee in its own game. You see, Dear Reader and Dr. Zakaria, this situation is a completely different ballgame altogether.

In other words, it would not have hurt anybody for NAS’ administrators to have opened up an investigation or a probe into this most needlessly tragic incident, even well ahead of any law-enforcement investigation or a parliamentary probe into the same. Besides, an honest self-probe would have actually boosted the confidence and the integrity of the institutional establishment of the National Ambulance Service with the hitherto skeptical general public. The key operatives of the National Ambulance Service need to conduct the affairs of this most vital institutional establishment proactively and not passively or reactively or retroactively. Of course, we also fully recognize the inescapable fact that absolutely no institutional establishment run by humans is hermetically infallible or absolutely devoid of any functional glitches here and there or from time to time.

Now, what we are looking towards here is the establishment of professionally efficient and enforceable rules and regulations guiding the daily operations of the National Ambulance Service by the use or application of best practice protocols and methods comparable to similar institutional establishments elsewhere around the globe.

*Visit my blog at: KwameOkoampaAhoofeJr

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD

English Department, SUNY-Nassau

Garden City, New York

July 19, 2022

E-mail: [email protected]

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