- Secondly we would rather put other people’s money into health, than our own. It means submitting to other people’s conditions, and fulfilling other people’s mandates in addition to our own. I have seen how money has directed programs in directions which were not exactly in sync with the needs on the ground. Just going for money for health, because it is cheap, and available, does not translate into providing health care for the people.
Our family dog and I have a special relationship, forged by years of her being the only awake being in my house many nights a month, when I return from work. I can always count on the wagging tail behind the gate as I unlock it, as I totter closer to sleep after a long day. And there are quite a few long days in a month. It does not matter that the health care system is subpar. One must do what one has to do.
I am doing what I always dreamed of doing as a kid. I consider this as a special privilege. The ability to live my dream in the land where they were conceived. I consider this as one of the special blessings I am grateful for. I want my system to get better, so I poke it, and needle it, and point out its faults, because that is how things get better, but I always am aware of the privilege of deciding that I want to do something with my life and being allowed to do it in my environment. So if it means coming home late, quite a number of times a month, well that is the way it is.
And there have been a lot of medical workers in this country who have inspired me along the way. I know doctors who work nonstop, sorting out problems. I know nurses who run entire departments, who are so devoted that everyone wants them around, every time. I know radiology technicians who will give me vital images at odd hours, without hesitation. I know lab technicians who sort out urgent labs, provide emergency blood, just because I call. The list goes on and on. There is a medical community in the country doing inspiring stuff. And most of them will continue irrespective of the rot that swirls around them.
These past few weeks have been disastrous for the reputation of health management in this country. Unused facilities, expensive losses, ministerial take overs, unemployed trained staff, a vice-presidential health vacation abroad… These have just burst into the consciousness of the public as if they just emerged, but they have been evolving for eons. Health in this country has the perfect collaboration of factors that prevents any sustained growth.
First, politically motivated projection of health problems, and crafting of proposed solutions to gain election favor. This is the basis of the numerous fine buildings we see dedicated to health, with no iota of social functionality. Even our kids would wonder what we were thinking, when we built multimillion dollar edifices, without a plan on how to run them. As long as we leave problems that should be dealt with by technocrats, in the hands of those whose lifeblood is the favor of the people, these stories will repeat themselves.
Secondly we would rather put other people’s money into health, than our own. It means submitting to other people’s conditions, and fulfilling other people’s mandates in addition to our own. I have seen how money has directed programs in directions which were not exactly in sync with the needs on the ground. Just going for money for health, because it is cheap, and available, does not translate into providing health care for the people. Looking around Accra, I cannot see one privately owned building, more than 2 stories high, that is dedicated to health. I stand to be corrected. However I have seen enough money poured into funerals, to know that we can pour money when we choose to. If we pour our own money into our health, maybe it will get better.
Thirdly we are not really interested in training the people who should run these centres. We do not have a plan to meet the medical needs of the country in the next 20 years, with the personnel who can deal with those needs. I know that stating this in this way is a bit of a travesty on the good intentions of the Ghanaian citizen. But this is 2018. Intent never got anywhere without action. Action never gets anywhere without results. Starting never goes anywhere without finishing. We have more than 350 doctors sitting at home waiting to be employed. We have other medical staff. They are all waiting for the government. Because we the people expect to spend our money on all the other things, and have the government take care of our health.
Until we put private money into training and employing medical staff in a big way, these scenarios will continue repainting themselves. We have done great stuff with mobile phones. We have done it with mobile money. We have done it with radio and tv broadcasting. We have done it with banking.
We can do it with health.
Life is a long series of memorable moments punctuating passing time. Teddy samples some of his poignant ones. Here and there, memorializing otherwise fleeting experiences. Find more of his writing at Amazon