Thursday, April 08, 2010

Nightmare at Private Hospital Lister, Redux, & A Cautionary Tale of Private vs. Public Health Care in Ghana?

The shower is a great place to catch early news on radio.


So it was not without reason that it would be there I would catch the news of a harrowing story that involved Lister Hospital and a case of a dead baby that was not attended to by nurses. The station was CITI97.3fm, and although a bit too much time was spent on the story, it was clear that it was important issue to be talked about, especially as it was an interview of the mother in question, Mrs.Vaah.


According to the interview, her baby lay a good five minutes outside her body--without the umbilical chord being cut by either the doctors or the nurses.


This is how CITI97.3fm reports it on its website:

"Mrs. Vaah added that several minutes after the baby came out the nurses kept running back and forth without knowing exactly what to do. She said that noticing that her baby was not crying as usual she inquired from the nurses but no definite answer was given.

when the baby came out, for about 5minutes he was laying in between my thighs and these nurses kept running back and forth without doing anything but I realized the baby was not crying so my husband and I started asking why the baby was not crying but one nurse came in and cut the umbilical cord and wrap the baby and took him away. "

from: http://www.citifmonline.com/site/news/news/view/4590/1


What is noteworthy here is that this is far from the first time I have heard of a horror story from Lister hospital. I have a very
personal story of a very good friend, Nana Amaa, who passed away on Mayday 2006. This is what I wrote on my blog back then:


I am still reeling from the news of the sudden death of one of my very good friends (pictured above), Nana Amma, at a private hospital near the Spintex Road. It is Day Three since I heard the news that she passed away on Mayday, but I wake up every day feeling that I can give her a call. I still have not deleted her phone number, neither have I deleted the last txt msg she sent me. I won't either. I want to preserve them for posterity, and for her memory. I even went to the trouble of saving our online chats on msn messenger. I am still grieving, because I miss her very very much.

Why Nana Amma's passing is critical in this weekly review is because it calls into question the debate of private versus public health care. A lot of people, including myself, appreciate the efforts of public health care, but see it as still insufficient. I have tended to believe that private is better, because of the quality of the time spent with you, and the service provided. Nana Amma's case has proved a rude shock that this is not always the case.

Once my work colleagues heard the news, everyone wondered why she did not go to Korle-Bu, which is one of the biggest hospitals in the sub-region and the continent. It was only this week that the Graphic reported that the President had inaugurated a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computer Technology (CT) Centre "to help in the diagnoses of serious diseases" at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.

The machine, procured at the cost of ç27.5billion "will be used for the early detection of diseases, such as stroke, cancer, and breast diseases which are not easily detected by the normal X-ray machines."

Regrettably, it came too late for Nana Amma.

from: http://ekbensahinghana.blogspot.com/2006/05/as-week-draws-to-close-in.html



So when I called into CITI97.3fm a few days after her death, it was normal I would be concerned about the necessity of a debate on private versus public health care. This is what I called in to say to then-host Bernard Avle (as
captured in a blog entry then):


I think it's important that whilst we are talking about Korle-Bu, we also bring in the question of private versus public health care. A lot of people might be tempted to beg or borrow money to go private, because they hear it is faster and more efficient. As I indicated, my good friend passed away at a private institution, and that, for me, speaks volumes. The more we talk about the negative aspects of Korle-Bu, the more we might go to feed the perception that private is better. We should also be talking about public investment in our public health care institutions. A debate needs to be had so that people's relatives don't go dying [in droves] on us…"


from: http://ekbensahinghana.blogspot.com/2006/05/more-on-public-health-care-or-korle-bu.html


While it is true that I was imbued by grief then, it is also true that I have left discussion of the debate for a while now. I don't get sick often, thankfully, and I am still rather young--although at almost 33yrs, I could do far better on my weight management.


Point is: blogging has gone far in this country, and if we are to avoid such unnecessary deaths [which death is necessary, anyway??!!!] then it probably behooves more of us bloggers to make commentaries on these important health issues more than we do--and not just when we are sick.


This is no lecture. Probably more of a "note to self" !






labels: ghana health, private health care, public health care


 

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