I don't, in the least bit, delight in making it seem almost as if I am desperately trying to carve an epic media niche, for myself, by incessantly picking on Ghana's minister for Women and Children's Affairs; but one thing is almost certain – and it is that Ms. Akua Sena Dansua is not making her teachers proud. And I am not even sure whether her family, friends, associates and relatives ever wax with excitement whenever the minister makes such outrageous and outright dimwitted remarks as that the Kufuor government's “policy of giving free medical service to pregnant women upon delivery” is squarely to blame for the supposedly marked increase in the rate of pregnancy among Ghanaian women (See “Free Delivery Contributed to High Maternal Mortality – Akua Dansua” Modernghana.com 6/3/09).
Indeed, contrary to what Messrs. John Evans Atta-Mills and John Mahama would have the rest of their fellow Ghanaian citizens believe, in terms of ideological temperament and agenda, the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) has far more in common with the unabashedly right-wing, anti-minority and poor U.S. Republican Party (GOP) than any vitriolic opponent could claim for the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP).
Thus it was that even as the NDC shamelessly boasted about its non-existent “social democracy” credentials, the party that Togbui Abgotui fabricated continued to doggedly pursue its extortionate health policy agenda of letting the ailing and poor fend for themselves, a la a survival-of-the-fittest regime called “Cash-and-Carry,” or drop dead and out of the system, altogether, almost as if the ill and poor never existed in fact or reality.
Of course, one could not but unreservedly concur with the Women and Children's Affairs minister that the New Patriotic Party's indisputably humane and progressive policy of making ante-natal and post-natal services free and readily available to fertile Ghanaian women was apt to be abused by some of the very subjects – both NDC and NPP adherents – of such liberal policy.
The problem arises, however, when Ms. Dansua self-righteously blames this protective and all-too-civilized policy, or program, with being squarely responsible for the apparent rise in maternal mortality. Indeed, it would have been far more intelligent and constructive for Ms. Dansua to have released verifiable comparative data to Parliament, where she reportedly made her rather unfortunate, if also unpardonable, observation indicating the rate of maternal mortality under the NDC's Cash-and-Carry policy vis-à-vis the liberal and pro-feminist policy of the Kufuor government.
In other words, in plain language, that is, Ms. Dansua's categorical contention is that the morbid policy of callously denying poor expectant mothers easy and free access to critical and seminal health services ought to be the ideal national health policy of a social democracy-oriented National Democratic Congress (NDC).
There is a cognitively dissonant paradox here, of course, particularly when one attempts to square the preceding social Darwinian ideology of Ms. Dansua's with the minister's recent observation that the Kufuor administration's policy of lengthening the curricular duration of Ghana's senior high school system by a year had undesirably/unduly delayed vintage opportunities for nubile Ghanaian women to enter into early marriages. For what is the purpose of marrying early, on the part of any woman so disposed, but to reproduce and raise a family?
Unless the minister of Women and Children's Affairs, by her apparently public endorsement of early marriages for women also implies that these women grab for well-heeled men, perhaps even sugar-daddies old enough to be their fathers and grandfathers, then her quite curious assertion that it, literally, verges on the outright criminal for “some women to get pregnant with the view that they would get free medical attention,” needs prompt and critical reviewing. A psychiatric examination on the part of the observer, perhaps?
Where anybody could make a constructive case against the abuse of Mr. Kufuor's liberal policy towards women's healthcare as a negative or pernicious bait, of course, is in regard to the avoidable swamping of this generous system by unmarried and/or single women whose sole reason for getting pregnant in order to simply take advantage of the system. But here also, it goes without saying that statistical evidence needs to be provided in order to make a strong case for the patently callous Cash-and-Carry system being, supposedly, markedly responsible for a relatively salutary slowdown in the rate of pregnancy among fertile Ghanaian women.
In other words, did Mr. Kufuor, in offering free medical services to young and poor Ghanaian women, actually cause a pronounced decline in the quality of life of these women, as opposed to Mr. Rawlings who preferred the “tough-love” approach to the health needs of Ghanaian women?
Our categorical contention here is that contrary to what Ms. Akua Sena Dansua would have the rest of the Ghanaian people believe, it is actually when the quality of life improves at all levels of endeavor – i.e. academic, professional and economic – that our citizens, faced with promising opportunities for personal advancement, regulate, or discipline, their purely instinctive and often recreational penchant for sex. A close scrutiny of nations with advanced economies bears the preceding out, particularly regarding the rate of reproduction vis-à-vis their underdeveloped counterparts.
Then again, who said the pathologically self-serving enterprise called the National Democratic Congress (NDC) was not intrinsically and inextricably synonymous with a Shakespearean comedy of manners (and deeds, as well)?
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is the author of 20 books, including “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (iUniverse.com, 2005). E-mail: [email protected].