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29.06.2019 Feature Article

All My Friends In Ghana Are Dying One By One, Why?

Kweku Agyemang - Manu, Ghana's Minister for Health
JUN 29, 2019 FEATURE ARTICLE
Kweku Agyemang - Manu, Ghana's Minister for Health

I thought I am a very strong person, emotionally and physically but death has defeated me and make me acknowledge the fact that no matter how strong one is, the inevitable death can render you powerless, nervous, mentally unbalanced and even depressed.

The fast rate I am losing my friends in Ghana has given me ample information to believe that if you are unemployed in Ghana and sick, you can easily die and if you don’t know someone at a hospital in Ghana, to assist you through the normal procedure quickly, you may lose your life while waiting for the doctor.

The medical world is corrupt in the sense that pharmaceutical companies make fortunes from sick people, through vaccines and drugs which are actually dangerous to be used or don’t cure any disease or sickness at all.

Ghana’s version of medical corruption is poor medical care, facilities, lack of the right medication, bed, ambulance, and ineffective medical personnel.

From the time I arrived in Europe, not a single year passes without hearing of the death of a friend. In Rome, Italy, I took my time to send postcards to two of my best friends in Ghana, without any response. Three years later, I visited the families in Ghana to find out that I sent postcards to the dead.

According to their parents, they died just some few months I left the country. It’s very difficult to explain in words the moment how I felt, especially, when I was told one of them who was very young had died after a stroke.

There is a proverb in Ghana, which says: “If you haven’t visited someone’s farm yet, you may think your farm is the largest.” The same way, I thought Ghana hospitals have the best medical facilities until I came to Europe and realized that life-saving medical types of equipment at the hospitals are either toys or complete second-hand, non-effective medical equipment.

Moreover, it seems since one doctor attends hundreds of patients at the hospitals, many get tired or frustrated to give proper medical care to patients in Ghana. Because if you compare the love and care European doctors give to their patients, you’ll be amazed.

Many Ghanaian doctors and nurses can't even smile. Patients meet unfriendly faces different from that of the lady with the lamp, Florence Nightingale, which makes their sickness worse. I tell you the truth that there is special healing in kindness and friendliness.

My friends keep dying in Ghana and the disturbing factor is many of the deaths aren’t life-threatening. Since they couldn’t afford to go to the hospital, some of them prefer to stay at home and seek other ways to get treatment but the true fact is if a doctor hasn’t diagnosed an ailment, you might be treating a wrong sickness at home.

Just last year, I lost one Mr. Cobbold and last week, I have lost another friend, Mr. Ephraim. That really kicked me very hard because I spoke with him a month ago. In a state of hopelessness and desperation, I made a mind- research, which gave me certain answers pertaining to the death of my friends.

In the year 1980, during the oil boom in Nigeria, many left the shores of Ghana, to this oil-rich African nation in search of greener pastures. After a number of years, many of us left the country to Europe, while some of them settled in Nigeria or returned to Ghana.

Many of my friends that either lived in Nigeria or returned to Ghana have died but almost everyone who made it to Europe is living today. On holidays, I met some of them in Spain, Britain, Germany, and Holland. What does that mean?

This psychological research has given me ample information to believe that Africa’s health system is still poor and fragile, decades after independence swept through the continent. The response to a medical crisis on the continent of Africa always meets many challenges.

Frankly speaking, any country which a sick person can’t go to a hospital because of financial problem is not a good country. African leaders encourage doctors and nurses to stay at home, yet they seek medical treatment abroad.

That alone evidently supports my argument that that Africa’s health system lacks the quality of care, the route to equity and dignity for women and children. To deliver a good health service, Ghana needs health services that meet the criteria, such as safety, effectiveness, timeliness, efficiency and equitable.

Ghana is not a poor country, resources in that country are capable of providing modern hospitals to give better health care to every Ghanaian, whether employed or unemployed, therefore, Mr. Kweku Agyeman-Manu, that responsibility lies on your shoulders.

Joel Savage
Joel Savage, © 2019

Joel Savage is a Ghanaian-Belgian journalist and author. The accredited press-card holder of the Flemish Journalists Association once contributed regularly to the features column of the Daily Graphic, The Mirror, Ghanaian Times and the Weekly Spectator. The writer currently lives in Belgium., Author column: JoelSavage

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