Accra, Sept. 23, GNA - A State funeral was held at the forecourt of the State House on Friday for the three urologists, who perished in a tragic motor accident on August 27, 2005.
Under the canopy of a cloudy and dull weather, President John Agyekum Kufuor, dressed in traditional mourning apparel and accompanied by the First Lady, Theresa, Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama and Ministers of State, filed past the open casket bearing the mortal remains of Professor Emeritus John Kwateboi Marmon Quartey, 82; Dr Isaac Kofi Bentsi, 64 and Dr Benjamin Osei-Wiafe, 34.
The State House adorned with national and traditional funeral colours also attracted a large number of mourners including Former President Jerry John Rawlings, Former Vice President Professor John Evans Atta Mills, Ministers of State, Members of the Council of State, the Diplomatic Corps, Commanders of the security services, chiefs, doctors and other professionals.
The singing of dirges, blowing of atentenben and traditional dances heralded the various tributes that deepened the mournful nature of the ceremony and opened the floodgates of tears from relatives, friends and sympathisers.
The Senior Minister, Mr Joseph Henry Mensah, who read a tribute on behalf of the President said: "The careers of these doctors that we mourn, offer important lessons to us. They were professionals, who remained true to their calling.
"It was professionally their duty to arrest pain, restore the body to good health and save lives. They did all that with a difference." President Kufuor described their death as appalling especially when they were returning from an official duty.
He said the nation owe the medical professionals a depth of gratitude, adding: "The medical profession is not about making money, but preserving human lives".
President Kufuor said the three doctors made priceless contributions to the nation and made the ultimate sacrifice for which the country would eternally remain grateful.
President Kufuor said Government would confer posthumously, a high State Honour on Prof. Quartey, who was the Leader of the team. He praised Dr Bentsi for initiating the outreach programme in 1998, which claimed his life and his two colleagues.
President Kufuor eulogised Dr Osei-Wiafe as the youngest of the three doctors.
"He had given convincing proofs of proficiency and following the good example of his teachers, was already available to patients, who could not travel to Accra. What great promise and what a great and untimely loss."
In a tribute read on her behalf, Dr Cecilia Bentsi, widow of Dr Bentsi called on the Government to improve on the working conditions of doctors.
"Our junior doctors look at the lives of their senior colleagues in planning their lives. They look at some of their role models in deciding their professional career path.
"The system does not reward good service and sometimes people do not get what is due them. We have had some dedicated professionals, who fell sick while in service and who had difficulty in procuring their drugs and have had to mobilise family resources for that; some have died as paupers," she noted.
Dr Bentsi, Head of Private Sector Unit of the Ministry of Health, also suggested the need for Government to streamline the engagement or re-engagement of persons on contract, which sometimes took more than two years.
The Most Reverend Dr Robert Aboagye-Mensah, Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church, who delivered the sermon, said the circumstances under which the doctors died showed that they lived for the benefit of others. "Nothing is more fulfilling and greater than living a life to serve others."
Most Reverend Aboagye-Mensah asked the Government to ban the importation of second hand tyres, which he said were behind the numerous motor accidents.
He said combating accidents was a collective responsibility, hence the need for public support in assisting the Police and the other security agencies to halt the menace.
Most Rev. Aboagye-Mensah said: "If we do not change our attitude, and people persist in doing what they should not do, we will pray but it will not help."
The caskets of the doctors draped in national colours were later interned at the Osu cemetery amidst the sounding of the last post.