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Opinions Mon, 31 Mar 2014

MoH, Where is the final decision on the ‘Missing’ Baby?

On 5th February this year, Madam Abdul-Mumin Suweiba gave birth to a bouncing baby boy (a would-be Lionel Messi or in Ghanaian terms, a would-be-Asamoah Gyan or in general terms, a would-be national hero) at KATH. She was not merely told that her baby was boy, but the nurse on duty made her to touch the ‘maleness’ of the said baby to ascertain that. Thereafter, the hospital took the baby away, and has since decided finally that it (KATH) would never return the baby to fulfil the national assignment for which the Creator specifically instructed him to come and accomplish.

This decision of the hospital to never return the baby is formally endorsed by the Ministry of Health (MoH) following its unnecessary gimmicking for two weeks and some days. From now onwards, I will use the term ‘Stolen babies’ because the Ghanaian public are now fully informed about the active cover-up role skilfully played by the MoH. The unquestionable intelligence of the Health Minister, Ms Sherry Ayitteh, alone suggests that the illogical report given by her Ministry is a perfect cover-up. I said it all earlier (‘Missing’ baby is not missing @ ghanaweb 24/03/2014).

Before turning your attention to the unsubstantiated contents of the press conference, I want us to first determine the role the MoH assumed. The Health Ministry claimed that it was to give a final decision or report on 23rd, but it later (on 25th March) released what turned out to be the standpoint from which the matter kick-starts. KATH is under the Ministry, but the Ministry is not the parents of the missing baby. Therefore, the only thing the MoH could do, which the public expected it to do as well, was to order KATH to return the baby boy to its bona fide parents. Anything other than this order is beyond the Ministry.

However, exactly how and why the MoH failed to realize that the complainant (here the Suweiba’s family) has an overriding power in stirring the case remains a surprise. It portrayed itself as acting in public interest. Apparently, everyone knows that the average Ghanaian politician does nothing without an ulterior motive. The first conflict of interest was that both the family and the public demanded to know the whereabouts of the baby boy whilst the Ministry was interested in only seeing the dead body as falsely claimed by the hospital.

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Issues immediately arising from the family and comments emanating from the public following the issuance of the never-was-14-day ultimatum to KATH should have informed the MoH that its role be better reduced to that of an arbitrator. Nonetheless, the Ministry made a political capital out of the case, establishing committees to compile reports of events already known by everyone except perhaps by the ‘non-listening’ Health Minister and her advisers. The committee most likely comprised persons from the Ministry and other bodies within the Ghana Health Service. However, members of the Suweiba’s family who have a lot of information about events that occurred at the hospital were left out.

Media reports indicate that Suweiba and her family met the committee most probably once. Therefore, much of the investigations was centred on KATH. Common sense suggests that somebody or an organization acting as an arbitrator on any issue cannot focus attention on only one party involved in the case and then give a fair verdict. Truly too, the family of the victims including all other concerned persons are surprised by the MoH report which turned out to be preliminary instead being final as we were made to believe earlier.

Now, let’s turn our attention to some of the highly sketchy contents of the report. First and most important, the Minister stated that out of the five stillborn babies, only two were sent to the mortuary, while the other three were sent directly to the incinerator. This statement clearly showed that the Minister unambiguously supports the hospital’s claim that Madam Suweiba’s baby is dead, whether stillborn or dead sometimes after birth. Second, Ms Ayittey mentioned that the bodies of the three babies were mistakenly incinerated alongside other medical waste. Again, this statement affirms that the body of the ‘dead’ baby boy was incinerated.

I had a sleepless Tuesday night trying to fathom out what might have informed the Ministry of Health to think that what it said could even make sense to kindergarten ‘students’. Evidence from the Ministry’s own report should have ‘estoppelled’ Ms Ayitteh from making these two self-mocking conclusions. First, she said categorically that there was no certification of the stillbirth by a doctor and that no evidence exists in the register that the stillborn babies were discharged to the mortuary attendant. So, if the medical doctor who attended to the mother prepared no certificate that the baby was stillborn, what other evidence suggested to the Minister to conclude precipitately that the baby is dead? Ms Ayittey, be advised! I want to ask the Minister this simple question, ‘Can one go to SSNIT to demand the estate of person claimed to be dead without sending a death certificate?’ Once again, I leave the good people of Ghana to begin thinking of the kinds of leaders we have.

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Second, if there is no record that the body was discharged to the mortuary attendant, what again shows that the baby boy is dead? Ms Ayittey’s Ministry needs to rethink. Common sense suggests to us that females deliver at a gynaecological ward, patients needing X-rays photos go to the X-ray dept and sick children are admitted to children’s ward. Thus, dead bodies are sent to only the mortuary and to no other place. So, in a teaching hospital of ‘international’ standards, if a supposedly dead body was not sent to the mortuary, wouldn’t common sense suggest to the Ministry that there was a hidden agenda, not a mere procedural lapse? Oh! Ghana! Anyway, common sense is not common to common people.

Third, the most questionable and volatile claim of the hospital is that the bodies of the three babies were incinerated along with other medical waste. The Minister and her outfit also formally accepted this claim. (A reminder to the Minister is that her outfit’s acceptance of this claim is only behalf of gullible persons like her and never on behalf of the govt and people of Ghana.) The Ministry’s acceptance was stated unequivocally in that the Minister said that the bodies were sent straight to the incinerator instead of being first sent to the mortuary attendant.

Again, only common sense is required to discard this claim. The attendant of the incinerator as well as some other renowned persons at the hospital said that the incinerator was never used even five days before and remained unused for three days after the baby had disappeared. This fact was confirmed by KATH authorities themselves. There are documentary, pictorial and oral evidence to attest to this fact. Which other incinerator was the Minister referring to and who even mistakenly incinerated the body? The Minister, therefore, succeeded in deceiving herself. We knew clearly that the Ministry was preparing the mind of the public for this long before.

Furthermore, the Ministry also said there was an inappropriate storage facility for stillborn babies at the labour ward. Somehow ignorantly, the Minister forgot that if the storage facility was indeed inappropriate, it was her outfit’s fault and not that of KATH. The question needing answer from the Minister is whether KATH notified it (the Ministry) that its storage facility for stillborns was inappropriate. If KATH did so, the public needs to when and what the Ministry did to fix the problem until this stolen baby issue cropped up.

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Therefore, I want to inform the Ministry that, it only allowed itself to be ‘used’ by KATH. The hospital only used the ‘inappropriate facility’ to the trick her outfit as lizards have being doing to their predators—autotomy. When a predator such as a cat pursues a lizard, the lizard immediately sheds part of its tail. The shed tail lies waggling continuously like the animal itself. The predator focuses attention on the waggling tail and the lizard escapes. If indeed the storage facility is inappropriate, KATH might have been using it intentionally such that whenever its baby stealing incidences, which occur in series as Season Four series, are discovered, it will use the inappropriateness of the facility to divert attention. And indeed, KATH succeeded in deceiving Ms Ayittey. I am again informing the Minister that many doctors reportedly deliberately spoil medical equipment at govt hospitals to compel patients to attend their private hospitals.

The most shocking revelation of the Ministry’s report was that Madam Suweiba was poorly taken care of by the hospital. For example, the report stated that Madam Suweiba lost ‘about’ 400 ml of blood, yet the nurse and/or the doctor ordered her to walk to the lift instead of her being transported on a trolley or in a wheelchair. What was deliberately omitted by the Ministry in its report is that the Madam Suweiba collapsed onto the floor and was resuscitated by Almighty God! Ironically, the entire fact-finding committee lacked the basic common sense to detect that the mother was tortured for a purpose—to make her unconscious so that they (the baby thieves of KATH) could take away the baby as they did. Little did they know that God was standing there! Even when it became apparently clear that Madam Suweiba’s own life was in danger, the nurse allegedly held her thumb and used it to thumbprint documents to the effect that her baby had passed away. Madam Suweiba might have even been given some hypnotics. Investigators must consider testing her blood.

From the documented voyage of torture meted out to Madam Suweiba, I can hardly figure out the bases for which the Health Ministry’s redirected the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and the Medical and Dental Council (MDC) to submit other needless reports again on 15th April. What happened is never a mere breach of any medical ethics, but rather a total breach of the most basic and fundamental human right—the right to life. Apart from stealing Madam Suweiba’s baby, the baby thieves deliberately attempted her own life. And these are crime against humanity for which the known perpetrators need to be prosecuted.

If leaders of the various units of KATH at which the incident occurred were arrested and were being tried with the possibility of life imprisonment or execution for failure to account for the babies, we would never have been told these children’s stories. But, it’s never too late, for nature has always kept its own equations balanced.

The Ministry of Health is only daydreaming. It remains unclear what it thought it is doing or has achieved thus far on this issue. The CEO Professor Ohene Adjei was honourably asked to proceed on accumulated leave— accumulated leave with accumulated salary I guess. In no time, all the benefits not due him for his tenure of office will be computed and paid to him. He will still be proud to document in his CV his tenure of office as CEO of KATH. Whilst on his accumulated leave, he will be relaxing comfortably with his wife and children. The doctor and nurse who tortured Madam Suweiba are also on indefinite leave—effectively receiving salaries for no work done. One may ask, ‘Has the Ministry appointed a psychologist to be counselling the Suweiba’s family thus far?’ The Ministry’s ultimate aim, known to us long before, has been to falsely calm tensions and to buy time for the baby thieves to superconceal any evidence in case of a court trial. And from the Ministry’s non-thinking viewpoint, it has achieved thus. Even before the report was released, the Minister has mentioned the possibility of compensating Suweiba’s family for the lost baby. Compensation for a human being! To the Minister, ‘I say, ‘you’ll likely see yourself in a witness stand explaining how you arrived at these conclusions which you made officially public.’

The very God that guided Madam Suweiba through the battle of torture in the delivery ward will surely guide us to see how this matter will end.

Long live our mothers! Long live Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana!

Idris Pacas: 020 910 15 33

Columnist: Pacas, Idris