Ministry of Health erred in the ‘missing’ baby saga

Mon, 3 Mar 2014 Source: Pacas, Idris

The story of this missing baby may likely remain as one of the most scandalous stories of our times. Stories are usually told as myths with mysteries, but the mystery surrounding this ‘missing’ baby saga is extremely mysterious.

I begin with how the general public got to hear or know the story. A baby was born at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) somewhere 5th February this year. The usual procedure is to place the baby on the mother’s chest for she herself to also ascertain whether her baby is alive or is dead. In the said case, only the nurses and the hospital authorities claimed the baby was dead. The first question is, ‘Did the mother also ascertain that her baby was dead?’ Let’s assume the baby, presumably still alive, was actually dead. The second question is ‘Hasn’t KATH got a procedure for handling dead babies?’ As reported, the hospital has. The third question, ‘was this ‘dead’ baby taken through the same procedure? The answer to this question is NO.

What the happened afterwards! The parents of the ‘dead’ baby wanted to see the corpse. The hospital authorities shamelessly and atrociously said it could not be found. As days went by, the couple and their relatives came back on several occasions demanding the corpse. As usual, the response from KATH authorities was the same. It was at this stage that the overtraumatized family exerted their anger and ‘deservedly’ disciplined some few hospital staff on duty. Predictably, the disciplined workers particularly the doctors, with whom I sympathized a bit, reported the matter as if they were unaware of the agony the family was going through. It was therefore the beating of some of the hospital workers—to whom missing of babies is a norm—that actually spread the ‘missing’ baby saga.

The Ministry of Health then established a committee to probe into the matter. The committee’s report as disclosed by the sector Minister and captioned ‘Committee Indicts Doctor and Nurse in KATH Missing Baby Saga’ (http://www.spyghana.com @28/02/2014) pointed out two contradictory issues. First, the report sought to confirm that the baby was born dead. Second, it showed that only one doctor and one nurse were indicted. These two workers were asked to proceed on leave to pave way for a thorough investigation while KATH was given a 14-day ultimatum to produce the bodies of five other babies.

Both the committee and the Ministry seriously erred by prematurely declaring the said baby dead. Evidently, the report submitted by the committee indicated unambiguously that there was a lack of communication between the doctor and the nurse who took care of the mother. The lack of communication was manifested in the contradictory reports on the health of mother and baby as given by the doctor and the nurse. Common sense suggests that the Ministry should have rather ordered KATH to produce the baby whether alive or dead. Therefore, ordering the hospital to produce the body of the baby is an impulsive attempt on the Minister’s part to declare the baby dead when in practice the baby is most likely alive.

Ironically, Ghana Police Service has already arrested 7 persons in connection with the incident (graphic.com.gh @ 27/02/2014). It is uncertain whether the police went in to arrest the suspected baby thieves on their own accord or whether it was KATH or the Ministry of Health that ordered their arrest. Professionally, the police maintain that they cannot declare the baby dead without seeing the body. It therefore remains unclear how and why the Health Minister hesitantly concluded that the baby was stillborn.

Whichever the reason might be, the case is more likely to die naturally. For instance, whilst the public know the names of the parents of the missing baby, the doctors who claimed they were beaten and those suspected of beating them, the names and identities of the doctor and nurses who either sold the baby or its corpse are held secretly—incident one that shows how the substance of the case will soon vanish into thin air.

I advice the doctors who claimed they were beaten to redirect their anger at KATH authorities and the Ghana Medical Association (GMA). Why? Because it was KATH authorities who were supposed to immediately summon and query all the doctors and nurses on duty who orchestrated the disappearance of the baby. This urgent action if undertaken by KATH would have produced two effects. First, it would have shown how they empathize with the affected family; thus, the family would have waited patiently for years for them to investigate the matter even without the public knowing it. Second, it would have shown that the hospital has no links with the disappearance of the presumably live baby. As it is now, every evidence suggests that missing of babies or their bodies is an institutionalized event at KATH. Therefore, KATH authorities are fully aware of the whereabouts of the said baby.

GMA was also expected to have immediately called for the arrest of all the doctors and nurses on duty. But it never did apparently because it is wholly focused on organizing the next meeting to announce a date for its members to strike for salary arrears. Is that the kind of work that professionals do and then ask for better remunerations? Nature will balance its own equations.

In my candid opinion, the baby was born live and it is still alive to-date. The baby is not missing either. It is only missing from the parents and the public, but the doctor and nurses on duty precisely know its whereabouts. The consistently horrendous response by KATH authorities that the baby is dead but with the corpse missing only shows how irresponsible and impious they are. That in one of the state’s most prestigious hospitals, a baby can be declared missing with the hospital authorities not immediately arresting and prosecuting negligent staff. This is unheard of. Nature will surely balance its own equations.

The said ‘baby thieves’ have already been granted bail; they are now relaxing with their families; they have already taken their February salaries and will still be receiving taxpayers’ money as full salaries. Despite all these, no one knows how the agonies of the affected family are placated. Therefore, the manner in which the case is being handled is absolutely inappropriate.

I am appealing to the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and the govt at large to intervene and to take over the case. The govt through the Gender Ministry can establish a public committee to hear the case. The hearing can even be given live TV coverage. Here, testimonies of innumerable mothers who were ever given the same message—the baby is dead— will be so overwhelming that, the public and the state can then quantity the extent to which baby trafficking has thus far flourished in Ghana. There is a fully established syndicate, operating in nearly all the metropolitan hospitals, that is supplying babies to Western markets. It is because of the ease of getting babies that many people in the West are now choosing to be homosexuals. After all, without giving birth, babies to indoctrinate into homosexualism abound and are easily obtained.

My last question is, ‘Why do people in authority want to be mistrusted so much?’ Educationally, authorities in University of Ghana illegally imposed road tolls on the public and it took the students and public to over turn that inhumane policy. Traditionally, royal families have now factionalized—one faction sells land to some people, the other faction resells the same land to other people and then employs landguards to intimidate the other buyers. TDC epitomized this by irresponsibly destroying houses belonging to innocent people while the said chiefs, queen mothers and landguards are still living freely and sleeping in their houses. Religiously, men of God now preach only wealth with churches aggressively advertising themselves more than businesses do. Security-wise, police now rob the citizenry. Politically, every undetaking of the previous and current govt is heavily laded with question marks.

My advice to you (readers especially the ordinary citizenry) is to always suspect and then declare every authority guilty of wrongdoing based on your own criteria until the said authority proves himself or herself innocent. After all, if criteria established by the state were working, how could a baby born ‘alive’ be declared dead with the corpse still missing in no less a hospital but KATH.

To the youth of Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana, let’s rise. The need for us to rise and to fight has become more necessary that ever. Our failure to rise and fight now will imply that our children will not only insult us, but they will also curse for wilfully allowing illegality and moral decadence to be normalized in our time.

Idris Pacas: 020 9101533

Columnist: Pacas, Idris