Dr. Kofi Dankyi Beeko, the Author
Just be attentive to this argument, which you must have heard for the umpteenth time. Not quite a month ago, a renowned specialist in some field of medicine received a patient who was 'strapped to a wheel chair', with spontaneous excruciating low- back-pain, being the cause. He 'wasentered' to the doctor's office. His painwas such that, the experienced consultant needed to apply a couple of his stockpile of tricks, to get ''thevictim calmdown enough', to listen to the complaints in enough detail, so as to begin any meaningful examination. After all was done that would be required, the Physician needed an MRI-investigation, to bring the situation further into light. No problem, – it seemed, because, the Government Hospital in town did possess such a machine. The neatly printed request sheetwas filled out, with the 'prerequisite jargons.' Having finished examining the 'sufferer', the much experienced Consultant administered some pain-killer in anticipation. Proudly the 'Four Wheeler Mercedes-Benz' pulled off the yard of the private clinic in the suburb, and headed for the BIG HOSPITAL. It was long before the longish, and impressive vehicle pulled into the clinic's compound, and THE SUFFERER not requiring a wheel-chair anymore, even if not one hundred percent comfortable, walked un-supported, with his chauffeur and spouse, side-by-side. He made it into the waiting room's empty chair, whilst the nurse in attendance sent the request to the requisite section. Several hours later, his pains had started to worsen again, so his wife went to the desk to inquire how long they still needed to wait, 'until it was their turn.' The 'surprisingly' polite nurse disappeared for a couple of minutes, only to break the news, NOT SMILING, that the MRI-machine had 'gone out of order.' In case they didn't hear her right, she said it once again, THE MACHINE IS OUT OF ORDER, sorry!When was the 'consultant -something-Surgeon' to hear the news too? Seven days later, as he inquired by telephone, what had become of 'thatpatient.' He had got better on HIS medication, but he had flown to London, where he still had a valid stay-permit, to get the MRI done, which the consultant had insisted was necessary. Did it surprise anybody? The answer was 'no!' And why 'no?' Simple! It wouldn't be the first time. The consultant is rich in experiences of that nature. It often happens that, it takes several days, and indeed, at times, up to one week, to have an appointment at the big hospital in a big town, (and Kumasi and Accra are hereby always meant). Your ambulance may 'set sail', you would arrive after an arduous ride in a traffic, the nature of which you might never have experienced before, only to find out theplaceisempty. Out of optimism and ignorance, you would suppose it should soon be your turn, after arriving. But, no! The machine you have so much clamored for, has been out-of-order since 24 hours, (must have been after the good-willed Technician or Doctor must have given you the appointment). Since the breakdown, it has been 'nobody's responsibility', to inform you. Painfully, and crying in your heart, which hardly anybodyelse would perceive, you miss every step you would want to take, so as to return to the vehicle that brought you in, (your own, or an Ambulance, or a Taxi), your costs in terms of cash would multiply. Your deepest dismay may be, you were told by whoever felt the transfer was necessary, that, 'if the required step wasn't taken swiftly for your loved one, (to discover the ailment, and hence start treatment in time), you might lose him/her. Your spouse's life, your son's/daughter's life!!! How about your brother's, or your sister's life…..? Your nightmare cannot be narrated in words. Only those endowed with imaginative sense, would appreciate it. And yet this is a real daily event, told today as a drama, even if the narrator may be such a poor dramatist. The above story is being told, in connection with narrating the operation a couple of months ago of NelsonMandela, who at age 94, underwent surgery to remove gull-stones, in addition to having some lung-infection treated. Everyone held their breath, as and when they heard the news. But, in S. Africa, the age did not matter that much, and skills galore in whatever field you might be talking about. You would be encouraged. Machines don't go that readily out-of-order, and if they did, they don't stay that way for long. So, anxiety with the state of S. Africa, and also the whole world, becauseitwasMr.NelsonMandela , would not rise that high. 'No news is good news', the popular saying goes. But, just as we, (a group of young people and me), talked about surgical procedures these days in advanced countries, a 29-year-old lady with a Doctorate Degree in a noble field nipped it in, with this comment: 'I feel in Ghana, when we became independent, the Whites should have stayed a little bit longer,' she said neatly . Through the edge of myleft eye, (she stood to my left), I asked, 'and how much longer would you have suggested?' She answered, ' well, it's difficult'. All Ghanaians have heard this type of dialogue before. But, each time one hears it fresh, one would think one weren't hearingright. I don't want to be the one repeating what you may have heard several thousand times before, if you were my age. We say, 'Humm!! It's the maintenance-culture. We don't have it.' Then, when I convinced the young graduate lady, that we had white people who after 1957, did not go back home, but stayed and died on our soil, she giggled, and further contributed, 'But, I hear in S. Africa, the whites are more'. They are not. The whites are 18% of the population of about 46 Million people. All of us Ghanaians must have heard this also before, but is it not true that we so quickly, and so often want to hide behind excuses? 'That, the S. Koreans received big compensation from the Japanese for having once colonized them, but we in Ghana, did not get anything from the British', may be hocus pocus! The true story of the machine breaking down so 'untimely' for the businessman, and he flying to London for the Imaging, which exists equally in Ghana, but sopermanently in a state of breakdown, is also true. The businessman could afford it, so he flew to London.How about the myriad of 'ordinary people, who could not fly to London?What thought could we all give it? It goes round: 'the majority of citizens in a country are black, -bad economy. An example is Nigeria!'. The majority, 'when white, better economy, an example is Brazil.' What do we do, to alter the nemesis? It's our land, and we have non other, isn't it?
Kofi Dankyi Beeko, MD.E:mail: dankyi