29 June 2012

Ghana: President Mills Above Korle-Bu


"Issues about the President's health had been treated as "a state secret" by the ruling National Democratic Congress, leaving many people speculating about the true state of his health"-The New Statesman.

No human being can be perpetually immune to sickness. Once in a while, man may fall ill and seek medical attention. It is not a shame to fall sick.

President Mills' health issue has been in the news for a while. The NDC 2008 presidential primaries featured more on the President's health. Party scribes like Dr. Ekow Spio Garbrah and Mr. Michael Teye Nyaunu did make some politics with then Candidate Mills' health.

Some observers say because the President is now looking pale and weak, they suspect something might be wrong. Actually, it is God who gives and takes away life. I do not think any well-meaning person would pray for the death of a pal or even an enemy. Normally, sick people require spiritual, material, psychological and financial support for recovery.

In my viewpoint, very sick people need to spare themselves of the stresses that go with political campaigning. Political parties must work at featuring strong and healthy candidates. Sick leaders must be advised to hang their positions so they can work on their health first.

Ghana needs strong and healthy leadership for rapid socio-economic transformation. Our country can face a major economic breakdown if it continues to spend its resources on treating our sick leaders.

Sick leaders are of course great liabilities to the state, considering the colossal amount of public funds that usually go into their treatment. Most often, such leaders are flown outside their native countries for first-class medical attention abroad.

Just recently, ex-President Kufuor was at the Korle-bu Teaching Hospital for some surgery on his spine. The operation was a successful one. But the question which bothers my mind is why the former head of state decided to head for Korle-bu and not the US, South Africa, China or the UK. Was it because he is now out of power and so does not have enough resources to travel abroad for treatment? Or he did it due to his confidence in our local healthcare delivery system.

Some say our current healthcare delivery system is in shambles. Many factors, including inadequate medical equipment and materials, inadequate staff and poor motivation have been blamed for the flop. This is evident in the number of strikes and demonstrations recorded so far within the health sector.

I am yet to hear the day President Mills will head to Korle-bu or any of the local health facilities for treatment. The President routinely travels abroad for mere check-ups. It is clear the President does not think Korle-bu can handle whatever health case he is grappling with.

Until Mr. Mohammed Baba Jamal, now deputy Tourism Minister revealed to some US Embassy officials, as captured by the Wikileaks report, that prior to the December 2008 polls that then Candidate Mills was battling with throat cancer, the ordinary Ghanaian did not know exactly the President's health status.

Just recently, however, the President, in a meeting with journalists at the Castle disclosed that "My only problem is sinus, which I have suffered for years, but God is keeping me alive."

Personally, I support the idea for our leaders to disclose to their followers their actual health status. This would enable citizens to appreciate their conditions for any possibly assistance.

President Mills left the shores of Ghana for the US on Saturday, June 16, for a "routine medical check-up". Prior to this, the head of state was out of the public scene for over a week, at a time when there were some communal clashes in the country. A section of the citizenry feverishly demanded to see the President himself intervene in the conflicts.

Few days after some media channels alleged that the President has kicked the bucket, we were more than surprised to see the 'dead' President appear at the Kotoka International Airport in a press conference with some government functionaries and journalists, prior to his departure for his "routine medical check-up".

President Mills teased by saying, "Indeed this is not the first time I've heard people say this about me...Let me just say that I'm very, very, very strong. And I don't know the basis for saying that I'm dead."

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, flag bearer of the NPP, did wish the President well. Surprisingly, some government Ministers and NDC party apparatchiks rather responded by throwing vitriolic attacks on the NPP flag bearer for his kind message. They said Nana Addo and the NPP were just shedding crocodile tears for the President.

The President was away for ten days and returned last Monday. Jubilant crowd of NDC people and sympathizers poured out at the Airport to welcome their leader, who said he was very fit and energetic for the political task ahead. He was compelled to jog and to dance in an Azonto style to demonstrate that all was well for him.

Government should resource health institutions so they can perform well. All of us cannot have the opportunity to travel abroad for check-ups and treatments. So the earlier we do something about those hospitals and clinics at our disposal now, the better!

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