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15.04.2009 Feature Article

Putting nation's priorities right

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It was sad, unbelievable, but, real to see men and women sharing a common ward at a hospital, each battling for survival against various ailments. And the problem is whether, that facility qualifies to be called so.

The place was overcrowded, the stench of medicines, laundry and various forms of excretions toiletries was very repulsive and the groaning and moaning of patients very pathetic

There were only a few on rusty beds with worn-out mattresses. The rest were put on stretchers mounted on wheels or left on the floor. But these are the lucky ones. In all you will need a clean bed sheet and pillow cases from home or do with what is available. Others not so lucky have to be turned away to seek treatment elsewhere because the place is simply full.

The toilet facilities could themselves be potential sources of other infections, if you are compelled by circumstances to use them. Against all these odds, the hospital staff, at least most of them, could be seen doing their best to save their patients.

If the patient, and mind you, this is somebody whose condition may be very critical, is not followed by relatives who have stuffed their pockets with cash, then he/she is likely to in trouble, since there will be a demand for cash or the need to take prescription for drugs or related items that the hospital cannot provide.

Dear reader, before your mind begins to drift towards a hospital in a God-forsaken rural community, let me tell you that this is the sight which meets you on daily basis at the Medical 'Emergency Ward of the 37 Military Hospital in the heart of Accra.

This is a place that has been touted as a centre of excellence in health delivery. You know any time we want to measure our performance, we do not look at those ahead of us, but those behind us and clap for ourselves.

The 37 Military Hospital is among the nation's top public health institutions in terms of facilities and human expertise. It may rank after Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital and Okomfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, so if we are presented with such a situation at as it is commonly referred to, can we guess the state of health delivery in the less endowed parts of our country? Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital has its own story to tell, especially if you are taken there in an emergency situation.

Sometimes, these stories sound remote in our ears until we are taken Sick or have to take a relative in critical condition to the hospital. It is then that we realise that a lot of the talk by politicians that they are committed to efficient health delivery in the country is mere hot air they are blowing into our ears.

Ours may not be a rich nation but that cannot take away our capacity to paint our hospital wards and provide basic facilities that will soothe the pain of a sick person. How much does it take to provide water closets in our hospitals for our general use, if we can part with large sums of money running into billions of Ghana cedis to provide for the comfort of a few politicians and public servants?

If you drive around Accra, you will realise that most of the traffic lights have become symbols of national decay and negligence. These traffic intersections have become accident spots and have added to an already bad traffic situation in the city.

Why should it be so? Can this also be blamed on poverty or irresponsible behavior on the part of some public officers? Most often, it is not easy where to place the blame for such lapses in our national life.

Recently, after a series of accidents, certain decisions were taken to enforce existing motor' traffic regulations or the introduction of new elements to bring sanity onto the roads. We still see leaves and tree branches being used as signals on the roads.

Alcoholic beverages are still being sold at the lorry stations and vehicles with heavily tinted windows

Whoever ordered that the original design for the Tetteh-Quarshie Interchange should be scaled down to cut cost has done a great disservice to this country. Whether we like it or not, we are going to spend a lot of money, far more than we should have spent in the first place, if we are to remove the mess at Tetteh-Quarshie.

Some of us may not have the technical brains of road engineers, but common sense told us that that roundabout in the middle of what is supposed to be an express way linking Accra and Tema could only create one thing chaos - and it has succeeded in doing just that.

Against all good judgement, we have decided to construct a shopping mall where it is, and Ghanaians can go to hell with their protestations because the interest of one or two persons supersedes that of all other Ghanaians. In its present state, Tetteh-Quarshie is more than a jungle where only the fittest can survive.

We have treated poverty with too much dignity for far too long. We have gradually turned poverty into a kind of shield to cover incompetence, inefficiency, mediocrity and corruption to the detriment of our national growth and progress.

If we can go on a vehicle-buying spree to reward a few for national service, why can't we get enough money to make our hospitals the true centres of health delivery instead of making them look like camps for prisoners of war?

Why can't we make a few traffic lights to work to save us the agony of traffic jams and accidents? Why can't we transform Tetteh-Quarshie into a masterpiece of engineering work we can be proud of?

It is all about doing the first things first.
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MyjoyOnline
MyjoyOnline, © 2009

The author has 338 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: myjoyonline

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