Atta-Mills, God, and Child Birth in Ghana: Leadership anyone?

Tue, 2 Aug 2011 Source: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka

Every now and then, you read a news bit from Ghana that makes u want to wave a stiff fist in the face of these so called irresponsible leaders. The issue of child birth in Ghana is a messy one that calls for a permanent solution. I believe it is a known fact that child birth is one of the leading killers of women in Ghana. Will you agree with me that, mothers, queuing to have babies in a congested and often filthy hospital, will surely contribute to serious birthing risks? Given the grim cloud that envelops this issue, wouldn’t you think the president should call in the minister of health and sternly ask him to come up with a permanent solution? What instead do we see? Women, queuing to give birth at Ridge Hospital leads to the simple conclusion that these so called gay-hating-pious rulers are nothing but bald face phonies. Oh, and their religious protagonist too! A bunch of phonies!

This current president of Ghana is stunningly underperforming. Ask him about a problem and he invokes God as the solution. Lately, he is linked to a ‘miracle’ in the Eastern region. Are we witnessing the second coming of Christ in this president? The God of Atta Mills teaches us to love our neighbor and be selfless in taking care of the poor and needy? So why in God’s name is the president shamelessly supervising this despicable situation where women are queuing to give birth? Take away religion and it is still patently wrong to nurse the current situation. My question to the president, since he sees God as the solution to all our problems, is this: What would Jesus do? Just as Jesus whipped the charlatans in the temple, is he willing to crack the whip so we can take care of our mothers, sisters and aunts?

This lost at sea NDC government is willing to spend money on fighter jets and other irrelevant items, priority-wise, but cannot equip our hospitals to make sure that our women give birth in dignity? We are willing to spend scare resources to round up gay folks but can’t provide resources for women to birth in dignity? The last time I checked, gay folks don’t give birth to babies. Where are some of these phony religious leaders on this pressing issue? If Accra, the capital, is having such problems, what is the situation in other part of the country, especially north, upper west and east? Here is country that can give its former heads of states luxury fueled cars, houses, and many other trifling perks but cannot find money for critical healthcare resources? We can orgy in decadent luxury when we turn 50 (Ghana@50), but have not mastered ways to provide healthcare for our women? Is there any leader in Ghana willing to say that until we find resources to adequately equip our hospitals, all bets are off for end of service benefits for these politicians? Who has the guts to say enough is enough? Certainly not Nana Addo!! Will he?

Atta Mills is one of those reactive ad hoc leaders who has no plan to move the country forward. He is not able to hold the people that work for him responsible and accountable. What he does best is to sit quietly over burning issues. When exposed, like the customs situation at the harbor, he jets over there to spew venom in reaction. Once the storm subsides, he recoils back into his passive mode. Seldom will you see this president acting proactively to solve a problem. Putting out bush fires is not leadership. Leaders provide proactive direction and hold their followers accountable. Frankly, I am sick and tired of the ineptitude and something ought to change. Who is responsible for this situation at ridge hospital and how can they be held responsible? How did we get here? Do we care to do causal analysis for this blight?

Not too long ago, I made the observation that unless the rich and powerful are forced to live within the wicked healthcare system in Ghana; the poor will continue to die needlessly. As it exist currently, the president, chiefs, elite and powerful all seek care overseas. They seek care outside the healthcare system in Ghana. They just don’t care!! The poor pay taxes to take care of the rich and powerful overseas, even as they (poor) die in the sick healthcare system. What infuriates me is when politicians make policy, but find clever ways to live outside the policy. We see this syndrome not just in the health care arena but also with car imports and I am sure, many more areas. Until the people find a way to hold their elected officials responsible, nothing will change. This misguided idea that we can sit on our behind and expect God to perform miracles is creating a fertile ground for inaction, irresponsibility and lack of accountability. If God is accountable for all our woes, how can we hold any human accountable? Shouldn’t human action plus God’s blessings yield results?

It is lucidly clear that the private sector cannot take of this problem. Even if private hospitals abound, affordability will be a problem. People can’t even pay to have babies at Korle-Bu, a government hospital, let alone pay the hefty prices the private clinics charge. Add the mass exodus of doctors, poor pay in the public sector, lack of resources and facilities and you have a daunting problem on your hands. When faced with competing needs, prioritization becomes chokingly inevitable. I don’t know about you but I believe sternly that child birth is more of a priority than rounding up gays or buying jet fighters. Of course and allegedly, the NDC stands to gain from kickbacks just like any other government, thus its eagerness to buy jets instead of fixiing home. I think we certainly have our priorities wrong.

A few years ago, I personally went to Ridge Hospital to discuss the possibility of liaising free medicine for the hospital. I arranged to meet the manager in charge of the hospital. When I got there, they told me that he was busy. I gave them my information and left. After not hearing from them, I sent an acquaintance over there to follow up. The latter effort did not yield any results as well. I tell you this story not gloat but to humbly make the case that some of our brothers and sisters in Ghana make it impossible to help. This is especially true if they don’t see any immediate personal benefits for them. It could also be that they are tired of rich and high promises from disaporans that materialize not. Therefore, and in reaction, they write off such efforts. Whatever it is, we have to seriously get together to help with situations like this. However, such cross-border help efforts should be seen as temporary stop gap solutions that must transmute into sustainable long term self help efforts. I believe strongly that solutions to our problems can be found mainly from within Ghana. It starts with leadership!! Our leaders must be held firmly responsible for these problems. The people must find a ways to punish, by removing, leaders who underperform in-between elections. They should not wait till elections to get rid of poor performers!

Lastly, I want to say this to my Ghanaian brothers and sisters. Bringing a child into this world is very serious business. For this reason, serious planning must go into child birth. It takes approximately 9 months to carry a baby. As soon as or before a woman gets pregnant, planning must go into funding the impending birth. Husband and wife must sit and put a plan together. If the woman is a single mom to be, she can still put a plan in place. If all else fails, she may have to rely on the extended family. Whatever the situation is, there must be a plan to make sure that the woman can deliver safely. The next time you see a a relative or friend who is pregnant, politely ask her what’s the birthing plan for the baby on the way!

These adults that make babies must be held responsible. A woman can’t continue to sit and wait till labor hits and then expect all to be well. One of the things we don’t do well is to plan. We must make planning a part of our everyday life. Men should see their roles as more than sperm donors. Responsibility and accountability should be a merry go round for all involved. Perhaps community nursing, mass education and leadership involvement could help to stem this tide. We must act to dignify our mothers! They deserve every bit of it and more. Maybe a mother’s day campaign on this issue will appropriate. Now is the time to act!

Nii Lantey Okunka Bannerman Also known as the double edge Sword.

I don’t give the hell, I just tell the truth and they think it is hell----Harry Truman

Columnist: Bannerman, Nii Lantey Okunka