The midnight robbery in March of a water pumping machine at the Bongo District Hospital, which resulted in relatives of patients drawing untreated water from afar for deliveries and surgeries, has attracted not just an intervention from the lawmaker of the area but also a strong call to bring the perpetrators to justice.
The legislator for Bongo, Edward Bawa, restored the stolen machine at an undisclosed amount after the hospital was, as a result of the robbery, cut off from the district’s main water supply system that distributes water to the facility only once in every five days.
As records show, 52 deliveries, 9 caesarian sections and 17 general surgeries, which needed water badly, were done at the hospital with so much agony during the water crisis that lasted 3 weeks. Those cases were done with untreated water fetched from afar by relatives of patients seeking medical relief in either the theatre or in the labour rooms.
Experts, at the peak of the crisis, had allayed fears the untreated water might be safe from source but warned it also could be contaminated by the containers used in fetching and storing it, exposing patients to infections in the long run. And when the facility became too overwhelmed, management considered referring all surgical cases to the Upper East Regional Hospital in Bolgatanga, 15 kilometres away. But it cancelled that decision following patients’ outcries about the extra-mile ache the distance between Bongo and Bolgatanga promised.
“For me, my worry is on the way things are going on in Bongo,” the Member of Parliament remarked moments after he had toured the site of the fixed pumping machine, accompanied by the Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. William Gudu, and some administrative staff of the facility.
“After the incident in the hospital, I was equally informed that a group of people also went to the District Assembly and stole some computers and files from the Ghana Social Opportunities Project office, the GSOP office. If we do not rise up as a community to fight such people, we would be in trouble. They would gradually move from offices to homes not just to steal property but may even end up harming you. Some of them are within our community. We need to expose them to face the law. I would like to also appeal to the police in the district to up their game,” the disappointed-looking policymaker told newsmen.
Pump thieves were so technical- Dr. Gudu
In Dr. Gudu’s firm opinion, the thieves responsible for the disappearance of the machine were not ordinary robbers. They were highly technical.
They dismantled the mechanised borehole machine and took away its electrical cables, pump and pipelines.
The on-the-run criminals, according to the hospital’s authorities, were able to hit their target because the machine was mounted outside the immediate compound of the hospital- precisely at a spot within the hospital quarters which was the nearest place possible to tap water from the ground. And the robbery operation also succeeded because the bandits struck from the blind side of the two watchmen in charge of a vast area that includes the hospital and its quarters.
“I believe the people who did this are so technical because the way the whole system was, if you are not actually a very technical person, I don’t know how you could have been so fast to remove such a thing,” Dr. Gudu told journalists after the MP’s brief tour.
GHS, constituents hail MP for relief
To avoid a similar strike in the future, the new water pumping setup has been housed in a concrete structure with special padlocks burglars generally would even hate to see much less to attempt.
A relieved-looking Dr. Gudu, whose distress call to the outspoken parliamentarian drew the intervention, wrote a letter of appreciation on behalf of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the hospital’s clients, telling the lawgiver he had brought “a very huge relief” to many in the district.
“We know you are development- oriented. That is why you did not hesitate in coming to our aid even though government has not yet released Common Funds. The Management of this hospital on behalf the Regional Director of Health Service, [the] District Director of Health Service and the entire staff of the Bongo District Hospital, hereby convey our sincere appreciation and gratitude to you for the live-saving support (water pump installation) that you gave to the Bongo Hospital,” the medical director wrote.
A number of constituents, who had travelled from distant communities within Bongo to seek services at the hospital, complemented the indebtedness Dr. Gudu expressed as they recounted the toll the water crisis took on families for about a month.
“It’s not a pleasant experience to recall,” Mma Akaka, a woman from Gowrie, a community in the valley zone of Bongo, told Starr News. “After the machine was stolen, we were fetching the water needed in this hospital ourselves for our relatives on admission. Whenever there were long queues at any boreholes we found, we had to walk further in the scorching sun. You couldn’t afford to be patient to wait in a queue at that critical moment. We did that every day, you and your water for your relative, until your relative was discharged.”
Another woman, Asanyuure Aberinga, from Akundoo, an area at the core of the district, said with excitement: “We thank the MP we are free now. Water is now running through the taps. I brought my daughter here. There was heat, so much heat, at the time. I could not get water for her to bathe. That worsened her condition. And anything could have happened if this support had delayed or had not come at all.”