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‘Leaving in droves…!!’

As I did my early morning walk on Thursday, February 22, 2024, the Joy FM Super-Morning Show team discussed the topic of nurses leaving Ghana in droves for greener pastures overseas.

That was no news as in 2023, it was estimated that close to ten thousand nurses left Ghana.

What was news to me was that, so far in 2024, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) was losing nurses at a rate of two-hundred a month!

What struck me also was the submission made by a gentleman whose wife was a nurse. He stated that when he mentions his wife was a nurse, he gets asked questions such as:

“Is she here in Ghana?

Why, and what is she still doing here?”

These questions are followed by sympathetic offers to facilitate her relocation overseas!

Four days earlier, on Monday 19 February 2024, “Chairman-General” Kwami Sefa Kayi, on his Peace FM programme “Kokrokoo,” hosted Dr Lawrence Serebour of Korle-Bu Cardio-Thoracic-Centre.

Memory lane

The two occurrences during the week took me down memory lane to my November 2016 article in the Daily Graphic titled, “From Ghana?

Why did Dr Serebour send you here?”

Part read as follows.

“At breakfast, my host Corsay asked whether I wanted tea or coffee.

My rather apologetic and diffident response for coffee, because I was on medication for hypertension, and the feeling of guilt doing what I believed was wrong, elicited an immediate response from him.

Years earlier, my host had had surgery overseas.

As part of preparations in the hospital, a battery of surgeons, anaesthetists, nutritionists, physiotherapists, nurses etc., came to chat with him the day before the surgery.

When later he was brought coffee, he could not believe it.

For years, he had gone off coffee on his doctor’s advice in Ghana because he was hypertensive. Corsay quickly protested to the nurse.

The nurse was surprised at my host linking coffee to hypertension and called in the nutritionist!

She also called in the doctor who calmly told him coffee did not promote hypertension in any way!

With this new information, I drank my coffee very confidently.

Dr Serebour

While being wheeled to the theatre, Corsay was asked by the nurse which country he came from.

“Ghana”, he said. “Ghana?” she exclaimed! “Do you know Dr Serebour?” Corsay’s answer was, “Yes, he referred me here.”

The nurse stopped the trolley and in disbelief asked Corsay, “From Ghana?

Why did Dr Serebour send you here from Ghana?

This is a simple procedure for him.

He did it many times when he was here with us!” Dr Serebour is the head of the Cardio-Thoracic Centre at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.

On his first review at Korle Bu on his return home, Corsay narrated his encounter with the nurse to Dr Serebour.

He calmly said, “She is right.

It is a simple procedure, but if I had to do it here, I would have had to open your back like chicken to have access to the affected area.

Thereafter, managing the wound would itself have presented a challenge.

Over there, all they did was a small incision on your groin through which the appropriate gadget was passed.

We have the skills to perform the surgery. Unfortunately, we do not have the equipment!”

He added that this partly accounted for the brain drain among doctors and nurses.

Such people feel helpless as they watch patients die needlessly because of equipment unavailability.

Eventually, frustrated, they leave the country.

He continued that for those of them who have chosen to stay, they make do with the available equipment and send important patients overseas for procedures they could easily have done in Ghana if only they had the equipment.

Question

My question is, why do we do this to ourselves?

Recently, the First Lady of an African country died in a hospital overseas.

Meanwhile, a hospital named after her in her country did not have basic items.

An angry journalist asked why she chose to fly overseas to die when she could simply have died in the hospital bearing her name.

A tiny country like Cuba produces enough doctors to export some to African countries, including Ghana.

Apart from not producing enough doctors, we do not provide the few doctors who defy all odds to work in Ghana with the equipment to back their skills.

Why do we complain when they leave?

In any case, young doctors graduate from medical schools and stay at home for long periods awaiting postings!

To the powers that be, how would you have answered the question the nurse asked my host…..“From Ghana?

Why did Dr Serebour send you here?”

Leaders solve problems!

As a young cadet, I was taught that leaders are paid to solve problems, not to explain why problems cannot be solved.

Leaders, please solve Ghana’s problems, including giving doctors and nurses the equipment to work with so they can save the vast majority of us who cannot be flown overseas for medical care from needless and avoidable deaths!”

Summary

Our rulers must remember the English author Sir Rider Haggard’s quote in his book Alan Quarterman that, “The great wheel of fate rolls on like a Juggernaut and crushes us all in turn; some soon, some late! It does not matter when. In the end, it crushes us all!”

Sadly, while not still providing the needed equipment for our doctors, those who should, rather fly outside to countries more interested in medical tourism than healing African leaders who neglect their people’s medical needs.

In 2016, Dr Serebour said “We have the skills to perform the surgery.

Unfortunately, we do not have the equipment!” Need I say more?

Meanwhile, why do University of Ghana doctors who graduated from Korle-Bu in December 2023 have to stay home till May 2024 before starting their housemanship?

Leadership, lead by example! Fellow Ghanaians, WAKE UP!

The writer is a former CEO, African Peace Support Trainers Association, Nairobi, Kenya and Council Chairman, Family Health University College, Accra

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