What has tribe got to do with a patient's well being? Korle-But Teaching Hospital (KBTH), the nation's premier hospital sent a patient speechless last week when an attendant of the health facility asked which tribe he belongs to.
The attendant asked the question as part of a list of questions fresh patients are subjected to before given the “yellow folder” to access the services of the hospital. Other questions asked include age, sex, and residential address – questions asked by all hospital and other health facilities countrywide. But most public health facilities under the Ghana Health Service (GHS) do not ask for patients' ethnic background, neither do the many Mission and privately-owned health facilities.
Korle-Bu and Komfo Anokye teaching hospitals are the only two autonomous public hospitals. But why would the nation's premier hospital demand one's ethnic affiliation before treating a patient? Attempts to speak to officials of Korle-Bu throughout last week proved futile as one official after the other referred Public Agenda to other officials.
Reached on Friday, the Registrar of the Ghana Medical and Dental Council, Dr Eli Kwasi Atikpue said the practice of potential patients as practiced at Korle-Bu was not out of place.
He said bio-data patients including ethnic connections could help a doctor diagnose quickly and treat patients' diseases or conditions with the appropriate medication. Citing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and HIV/AIDS as conditions more prevalent in specific communities/regions than others, knowing the ethnic connections and residential addresses of clients could assist in ruling out possibilities as they dig into possible ailments each patient reporting at the hospital could be suffering from.