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12.01.2008 Health

SGMC Denies Doctor’s Claim

By Daily Guide
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THE STATE Gold Mining Company (SGMC) has reacted to claims by a medical officer who deserted his post at the Prestea Government Hospital, describing the allegations as unfounded.

Dr. Kennedy Azantilow asserted that the company evicted him from his official bungalow at Prestea, compelling him to abandon his post at the hospital to an unknown destination.

But in a quick reaction, Mr K. A. Yesuo, Desk Manager of SGMC stormed the offices of DAILY GUIDE in Accra on Wednesday to refute, on behalf of the company, all that Dr. Azantilow wanted the world to believe.

DAILY GUIDE carried a GNA report on January 7 that for the past one week, the government hospital at Prestea had been operating without a medical officer and this was because the medical officer in charge had been ejected from his apartment by the SGMC, which claims ownership of the bungalow.

Buttressing their case with series of correspondence, SGMC maintained that no one evicted the medical officer, but that he was asked to relocate to another bungalow which is nearer the hospital because his abode was within the restricted mining zone, but he refused the offer.

Giving the genesis of the case, Mr. Yesuo said when the SGMC was divested in 1996, the hospital was handed over to the Ministry of Health by the new investor, Barnex Prestea Limited, excluding physical structures like bungalows. He related that the new investor promised to maintain the medical officer and other 102 government employees in premises outside the restricted zone.

It was at this point that another bungalow near the hospital was readied for the medical officer to relocate, but Dr. Azantilow refused, citing reception for his cell phone as an excuse. But when a mast was later erected and the telecommunication system in the town became normal, the doctor again refused to move to the new bungalow.

This behaviour of the doctor, according to the Desk Manager, infuriated the investor who gave up the mining concession to Prestea Gold Resource. But because Prestea Gold Resource could also not have access to that particular bungalow being occupied by Dr. Azantilow, it quit in 2003, with a new investor, Bogoso Golden Star coming into the picture.

When all attempts to move Dr. Azantilow to the new bungalow failed, he was taken to court where judgment was given in 2003 for him to be ejected from the bungalow.

On January 20, 2004, Ms Joyce R. Aryee, Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Mines wrote to the then Minister of Mines, Mrs. Cecilia Bannerman, threatening to withdraw from the lease agreement that enables government employees to occupy premises of the mining company because of the refusal “of the medical personnel in Prestea to vacate the premises even though alternative arrangements have been offered him. As a result, Bogoso Gold is considering withdrawing from the arrangement which will bring serious negative effects to the Minerals Commission/SGMC and eventually to the government of Ghana”.

On June 15, 2004, the then Minister of Health, Dr. Kwaku Owusu Afriyie wrote to the Director General of the Ghana Health Service that he had no objection to the relocation of Dr. Azantilow, and “hereby request you to take the necessary steps to enable the officer to vacate the current residential accommodation for the new one in question”.

Mr. Yesuo noted that with all the attempts to have Dr. Azantilow relocate, he still refused, hence on October 19, 2007, the Chief Executive Officer of the Minerals Commission, Mr. B. N. A. Aryee wrote to the SGMC that the Desk Office of the company should enforce the 2003 court ruling to have Dr. Azantilow evicted from the bungalow.

The police were brought in to talk to the doctor to heed the court's decision as the company did not want to embarrass him by throwing his properties outside.

On December 25 last year, Mr. Yesuo said Dr. Azantilow promised him and the police that he would vacate the premises on December 28. Dr. Azantilow vacated the house alright but refused to go to the new bungalow allocated to him, and no one knows where he has been since.

Mr. Yesuo alleged that before vacating the premises to the unknown destination, Dr. Azantilow discharged all the in-patients at the hospital and gave a two-week excuse duty to his assistant, a medical assistant, to make the hospital ungovernable.

The Desk Manager disclosed that the bungalow which Dr. Azantilow refused to relocate to is currently being occupied by the District Police Commander while another bungalow is currently being refurbished for the new medical officer who would be posted to Prestea.

He warned Dr. Azantilow not to drag SGMC into the problems he had created at the Prestea Government Hospital.By James S. A. Kwashie

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