Deputy Information and Media Relations Minister, Murtala Mohammed says the puzzle of how a baby got missing at birth at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), must be cracked at all cost.
It does not matter how long the search takes or how long doctors at the facility embark on a strike under the guise of workplace insecurity, the baby must be found, dead or alive because it is just and fair to bring the controversy to a close, the deputy minister emphasised.
Murtala Mohammed made the demand on Radio Gold’s Alhaji and Alhaji programme while contributing to a discussion on the mysterious disappearance of the baby thought to have been given a stillbirth and the subsequent altercation between some youth of the Zongo community in Kumasi and a section of workers of the hospital.
Other panelists on the programme – Bernard Mornah of the People’s National Convention and Dr. Clement Apaak, a presidential staffer, not only shared in the demand to account for the baby or body, they were emphatic that the case was a criminal one and that the baby had been stolen and sold.
Ambassador-designate Dr. Tony Aidoo, also a panelist, however asked that the discussion is held cautiously and rather than calls for a criminal inquest, the puzzle could be solved per a probe of negligence.
While appalled by the apparent silence of so-called champions of democracy and human rights campaigners, including pastors and imams and advocates, Murtala said: “even if that child was the child of a hardened criminal in Ghana, as long as we are talking about human life we ought to be interested and demanding that this body be found. I don’t think that it would be wrong if anybody says that that child is not dead…”
He said he disapproves of the misbehaviour by the angry youth who stormed the hospital to attack staff, but it “does not preclude the hospital authorities from telling us where that baby is.”
Dr. Clement Apaak
For Clement Apaak, the story of the missing child “should be of concern to every reasonable human being who believes in fairness and equity and understands that every parent has a right to know what happens to your offspring, dead or alive.”
He said the case sounded more of a tale than reality and underlines the degenerate levels Ghanaian morals have sunken, saying without a closure the present case has the potential to erode the confidence of many especially pregnant women, in relying on health facilities.
“…or is it the case that our professionals in the health sector have been corrupted by cabals who are engaging in stealing and selling offspring? I don’t know, this is a very serious matter and I was glad that the deputy minister for health went there and engaged the doctors. And that is where I’m saddened that in spite of all of this; the Chief Imam intervening, the rightly aggrieved youth apologizing and pledging not to engage in any acts of lawlessness with the hope that the requisite state institutions would investigate and get to the bottom of this very bizarre, strange and inhumane development, they have still not gone back to render services to the good people of Ghana…”
According to Bernard Mornah, he had been wondering whether the case was a playback of scenes in fictional movies in which babies are stolen and sold out to the rich only for doctors to concoct reports. “But this movie that I’m watching is not a fiction. It’s live, it’s happening in Ghana, that a baby has been stolen and sold, it’s simple. They should go and bring that baby, that is all. (Programme host Alhassan Suhuyini protests that the conclusion was too hasty since there was no such evidence.)
But Mornah would insist, saying that there cannot be any equivocation about the case being a criminal one and called on the Ghana Medical Association to speak on the “distasteful” matter. “We should see doctors go on strike, we should see nurses go on strike because some of their colleagues are denting their image.
And suddenly I have not heard any church speaking now, or the churches are not worried about human beings that get lost on delivery? But some of the churches are praying for women to get pregnant and give birth, and this time they are not talking, we are not hearing the Mallams talk, and worse is even students, what has happened to NUGS, what has happened to GNUPS, what has happened to the SRCs…?”
“Short and simple, the baby must be found whether alive or dead, and if they bring any baby, it must also go through the test, DNA test to prove that indeed it is not just anything that they have brought in order to save the situation.”
Dr. Tony Aidoo
Dr. Tony Aidoo, who described the case as a complex and bizarre one, said it is not unusual for the mother who has lost the baby to go through post-partum depression, a situation which could also lead to the denial of the reality that the baby is indeed dead. An insistence on crime therefore could needlessly deepen her stress.
He said the inconsistencies in the stories by the hospital over how the baby got missing play into the demand for the production of the baby or its body, and that demand is also founded on suspicion of criminality. But it is also known that out of negligence, patients have had objects such as surgical instruments left in their bodies only to be discovered later when there are complications.
A thorough investigation involving the hospital’s processes leading to the disposal of a dead body by perhaps an illiterate orderly may help to unravel the complexities.
“Let us get to the bottom of this by emphasising the factor of negligence as opposed to the factor of criminality because we can still arrive at any evidence of criminality through investigating negligence,” he said.