Going to the hospital to die
Feature Article of Wednesday, 13 March 2013
Columnist: Baka, Benedicta
As a citizen of Ghana, I’m beginning to wonder whether there is any safety at all for citizens of this country.
I still remember when my father was transferred from the Atoa government hospital to the Korle-bu Teaching hospital for further treatment after he was diagnosed of cancer of the lungs. I was getting ready to go and meet him and the people who brought him alongside my mum when she called and said they were heading towards the 37 Military hospital. When I asked why, she said the attendants at Korle-bu said the Doctors in charge were not around. They also told them that they were short of beds and the chairs too were occupied therefore they should hang around if they could till the following day. I could not believe my ears! How could a patient who was in no condition to even sit, let alone stand, hang around till morning?
The question I keep asking myself till date after seven years is whether those attendants would have said the same thing if it were a relative or parent of theirs. My dad was received and taken care of well at the 37 Military hospital until he passed away days later. May His Soul Rest In Perfect Peace.
What happened with my dad is nothing compared to what many patients go through daily at our various clinics and hospitals where they go to receive treatment. Many people lose their lives on daily basis due to lack of attention or maltreatment in the hands of people whose duty is to help patients to receive treatment. One irony of this issue is that, it is usually not the doctors who misconduct themselves but rather the nurses and ward attendants. In effect, people go to the hospitals only to lose their lives instead of getting treatment.
As if this predicament is not enough, we are now being told about fake drugs not only on our markets but in our hospitals, clinics and pharmacies. So what next, I keep asking.
The story is that, some individuals and pharmaceutical companies have taken it upon themselves to import and or produce counterfeit drugs and distribute to unsuspecting people. Gosh! People will do anything as long as it serves their own interests. I don’t know whether they forget it is human life that is at stake.
One thing I know about drugs is that they are only friendly when the right amount of prescription or dosage is taken. If the reverse happens, it becomes poisonous. Some of the drugs retrieved by the FDA are not prepared with the right quantity of substances, some have no production or expiry date and there are no traces of some of the companies that allegedly produce some. What this means is that, whoever takes these medicines is OFFICIALLY in danger.
I heard a story on Joy FM about someone who went to hospital for treatment and his condition got worse after taking the drugs he was given. He was flown outside for further treatment where he passed away due to kidney failure. Doctors’ reports later confirmed he had the kidney failure due to the drug he was given. This situation could probably be happening daily without us knowing. How many people in Ghana can afford postmortem to determine the cause of someone’s death?
The issue used to be people buying drugs from trotros and markets without any guarantee that they are genuine. Now that the situation has graduated to the drugs being sold to hospitals, who is safe? If these hospitals and pharmacies are unable to tell whether the drugs were genuine or not, how much more the ordinary patient who will take in anything given by the doctor just to get well?
I heard officials of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) advising people to check batch numbers and other security details before using a drug. What they seem to forget is that, many people cannot read and even those who can, not all of them know and understand what a batch number is and the differences between them.
I keep wondering whether our export and import laws work at all, that is if we have any. There are many basic but serious issues confronting us as a nation but we focus our attention and energy on issues that are not beneficial to us in anyway.
I will like to use this medium to humbly appeal to the authorities in charge of seeing to it that goods imported into this country are wholesome and safe to consumers to be more alert in order to fish out these ‘evil’ beings.
People caught importing fake drugs into the country should be dealt with ruthlessly. Pharmaceutical companies importing and or producing fake or substandard drugs should be shut down and prosecuted. Hospitals who also give these drugs to patients should be dealt with. Somebody has to be responsible for all damages caused. It is unacceptable that hospitals will buy drugs without being sure of their genuineness and safety.
I can only pray that God touches our hearts so that we will all do the right thing at all times. GOD BLESS OUR HOMELAND GHANA.