Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Can we Ghanaians Trust our Lives on Cuba-trained Doctors?

Can we Ghanaians Trust our Lives on Cuba-trained Doctors?

Ghana and Cuba have a mutual arrangement to train Ghanaians who have a
clout to study medicine and qualify to be doctors under a Cuba
government scholarship scheme. This very kind gesture of the Cuban
authorities is not demanding any form of reciprocity, neither by way of
exchange of same nor by payment in kind; thanks to the leadership
arrangements of ex-President Rawlings. For many years now, some selected
Ghanaians continue to flock into Havana – Cuba to be trained in the
medical sciences and other allied fields for the benefit of Ghanaians.
The objective of this offer of training by Cuba is to save lives and an
ability to postpone death where necessary by capable trained hands,
competent enough to fulfil this unique objective as enshrined in the
Hippocritic oath ingeminated in the Helsinki and Nuremberg declarations.
To achieve this objective, capable students with the relevant clout and
capacity-building must be the sole criteria for selection, yet what we
see in Ghana is a nepotic selection of favourates based on Party
political colours and flavour; a selection of incapable Party faithful
with no smattering of knowledge in anatomical and biological sciences
but can only qualify for selection by reason of Party-belonging where
the said Party is the ruling authority, hence even housemaids with the
poorest of poor SHS grades are pushed on to pursue a course of training
to become doctors in Cuban institutions where they are enroled as a
matter of protocol curtesy without checking their academic and
vocational suitability.

The image inserted in this script is my uncle who walked into Sefwi
Wiawso hospital on an arranged appointment to undergo a surgical
operation to remove a hernia. To his woe, he walked into this hospital
with intent to undergo a healing process on a surgical table but ended
up on a butcher's table only to be carried home in a coffin. Nana Kwaku
Besseah, Agyaaku as he was affectionately called, walked into the
hospital on Monday 4th November 2006 with his full life in vigour and
agility, was butchered and pronounces dead the following day as a result
of some botched up surgical operation performed by a Cuba-trained
'Doctor', a butcher indeed, leaving behind a widow and six hapless
children. This hospital, staffed with surgeons trained-in-Cuba of a high
magnitude of incompetence did not accept vicarious responsibility on
grounds of bioethical incompetence and impropriety in the conduct of the
operation by the said 'doctor'/butcher. There have been similar such
cases across Ghana where victims have suffered untold jeopardy at the
hands of medically incompetent doctors who are later identified to have
been trained in Cuba.
A young woman in Berekum claimed on Hot FM radio to have suffered loss
of her entire womb a few weeks ago through a supposed medical treatment
at an approved hospital. This woman who will remain childless for the
rest of her life complained to the authorities for compensation yet what
she received was insults and vilification by the hospital authorities.
Ghana needs stricter laws governing the medical profession whereby
incompetence can be punished either jointly or severally as it pertains
in other countries as a way to foster competence. R v Adomako (1994) All
ER vol 74 is a cited case involving medical negligence in English Law
against incompetence.
I do not blame the incompetence on the training so received in Cuba per
se, I blame it on the selection; a selection which does not take into
consideration any innate clout, a desired connation, zeal and passion,
the qualifying criteria of the candidate to become what the intended
selection so made aims at achieving. Medicine, like legal or
architectural studies is full of challenges whereby practitioners aim to
achieve beyond the ordinary with zeal and passion. Much as a legal
practitioner strives to make legal history through professional
expertise, architects designing structures beyond the ordinary, so are
doctors and physicians. Signs of extreme attristed sorrow is visibly
expressed on the faces of competent Doctors and nurses when they are
unable to save a life even in dire and hopeless situations.
Fabrice Muamba, a Bolton mid-fielder collapsed on the playing field at
White Hart Lane, an incident in which Muamba was said to have stopped
breathing, (virtually dead) for 72 minutes yet through the very
challenging efforts of paramedics, furthered by the well trained and
dedicated Doctors of the cardiology department of Chase Farm hospital,
the 'dead' Muamba was revived. Such is the joy and pride of studying
medicine and indeed any profession; to prove and exhibit an acute
knowledge and practice of what the brain has been cultivated for through
training but not to practice a profession perfunctorily for the sake of
doing a job.
In view of the cost involved in training our doctors both at home and
abroad, the NDC administration under John Mahama has made Ghanaians to
believe though erroneously that, the cost of training a doctor in Cuba
is US$5,000 however the fact remains that the training is under a full
scholarship scheme by Cuban government yet Ghana spends US$50,000 on
every medical student trained in Cuba. In the government's untenable
explanation regarding the extra massive cost, if the parents of the
students were to be responsible for paying for their training, they
wouldn't indulge in such inordinate profligacy. In view of this,
wouldn't it be more prudent to invest more in expanding our own training
facilities in our teaching hospitals to produce more home-made
physicians under a better competitive selection process to achieve the
best? My question enquires into if it is just the prestige of having
been trained outside one's country. If Ghana can spend so much on
'incompetent' training, it would be better to have those so selected
trained in better university hospitals worldwide. If it is not the fault
of the trainer institutions, then the blame must be on the selection
process that decides how prospective trainees are so selected. There are
several Ghanaians who were cobbled up out of political convenience to
study agriculture in the former Soviet Union where the so-called
graduated and returned to Ghana improperly qualified with insufficient
knowledge in agriculture to enhance agriculture input but rather became
propaganda personnel of the defunct CPP of the 1960s.
There are indeed some Ghana-trained doctors, a few of whom I know as
former school mates who practice as physicians in British health
institutions with satisfactory performance after going through a brief
orientation training. On the contrary, there are Doctors from other
former Soviet communist block who are required to redo the full length
of their training so received before being accepted into British medical
institutions. I therefore see no point in not expanding our existing
medical institutions which are as equally competitive as those even in
the advanced countries. We in Ghana do not have trained career advisers
who are capable of delving into our post-secondary education incident to
choosing a course for professional training. How on earth could
hairdressers and housemaids be selected for training as Doctors in Cuba?
No British university hospital would accept such candidates for medical
training because if their GCSE results were satisfactory enough, no
amount of frustration would push them to opt for hairdressing and
serving as house-maids incident to becoming physicians. This clearly
shows that candidates are selected out of political convenience but I
must tell readers that training to become a medical practitioner should
not a matter of convenience but that sacrifice, high standard mental
qualities, devotion and dedication. The medical profession can only be
pursued by best brain high calibre people who can cultivate their brains
to produce the best for patients as good and not bad Samaritans to staff
our hospitals The medical profession is so challenging that it doesn't
make room for vainglorious certification to brag of; it rather places
extreme importance on high hopes of expert performance that brings joy
and contentment to be proud of.
It is expected that an in-coming His Excellency Akufo Addo
administration from January 2013 will ensure competence in handling our
patients to safe precious lives through giving training only to the
right and committed candidates irrespective of Party belonging to pursue
medical studies both at home and abroad because Ghana first. It is
poised to be a government that is people-centred and will not gamble
with peoples' lives by reason of political expediency, a selection based
on job for the boys and girls as we witness in a total of over 23 years
of P/NDC administration where butchers rather than Doctors are trained
to staff our hospitals.

Adreba Kwaku Abrefa Damoa; London UK


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