Should Doctors, Lawyers & Other Professionals in Ghana Be Less Greedy

Fri, 7 Sep 2012 Source: Thompson, Kofi

- And More Honest & Ethical In Their Work?

By Kofi Thompson

There is no question that in times past, in the main, members of the professions in Ghana were honourable individuals, who took their work seriously - and rendered the best possible service they could to their clients and society generally.

There are many Ghanaians, who now say that it is a moot point, whether or not that professional integrity of the past, still exists today.

Perhaps the shocking evidence from the latest undercover work by Ghana's leading investigative journalist, Anas Amereyaw Anas, of the goings-on at an abortion 'clinic' in the Accra suburb of Madina, will make the leadership of the Ghana Medical Association think about devoting some of their considerable energies, to helping the authorities rid our nation of such illegal 'clinics'.

What in our system made it possible for the abominable actions of a 'medical doctor' - a confirmed misogynist and quack who tricked as many as 52 females he was about to perform abortions on, to allow him to have sexual intercourse with them, apparently as an essential and unavoidable element in a successful outcome for the procedure - to occur, I ask?

That such activities can take place at all today, marks a low point in unethical and beyond-the-pale behaviour in a clinical setting, which somewhat taints the image of the private sector of our nation's healthcare delivery system.

Against the backdrop of frequent strikes by healthcare professionals in our country, the monstrous and depraved behaviour of that rogue 'medical doctor', brings into sharp focus the intolerable situation in which our country is frequently held to ransom by striking professionals of one kind or the other.

Surely, in a nation in which poverty is so widespread, there really can be no justification for the insensitivity and lack of selflessness, shown by the relatively better-off executives and membership, of the many professional associations, which today seem so quick to put aside their obligations to society - and opt to hold ordinary Ghanaians to ransom in their fight for better remuneration - and without compunction embark on strike action?

In the light of the many complaints by ordinary people about the rudeness and callousness shown by some Ghanaian health professionals, to ordinary people accessing our nation's healthcare facilities, it is hard not to be struck by the contrast in behaviour shown by many of the foreign healthcare professionals who work in hospitals and clinics across Ghana.

A case in point, with which I am personally familiar: Now a grass widower, I recall the many reports of the respectful attitude - reaching me through some of those she worked with - that my wife, who is a medical doctor, and German, is said to have always shown the many poor rural people she had to attend to, in the past.

That she empathised with all her patients was not in doubt at all, to any independent observer who saw her at work, I was informed. Of course there are still many Ghanaian medical doctors like her, I am sure.

However, the contrast between her sympathetic approach to her patients, and the plethora of complaints made against healthcare professionals by many ordinary people who visit government hospitals and clinics up and down our country - and object to having to put up with the arrogance shown them by some of the Ghanaian healthcare professionals who attend to them - cannot and must not be ignored.

Far too many medical doctors and the healthcare professionals who work in tandem with them, are putting their own selfish interests and creature comforts - in what is after all still a cash-strapped developing nation - above those of their country and its hard-pressed citizens, for comfort.

The question is: Are most of them not much better off materially, than many of their old schoolmates - who chose to pursue other academic disciplines at university, I ask?

They must remember the Hippocratic Oath they took at the beginning of what is supposed to be a vocation for them - when the urge to follow their hard-of-hearing and politically-motivated Ghana Medical Association leadership, and go on strike at their behest, gets hold of them.

Yet another group of professionals with a poor public image in Ghana, dear reader, are those who belong to our country's legal profession.

One often hears sad anecdotal stories about the travails of dissatisfied clients of lawyers - "ruthless and greedy professional-fat-cats" (to quote an old wag I know) forever keeping clients wanting to consult them, waiting, for hours on end.

Another popular charge against some lawyers by disgruntled clients, is that they allegedly collude with the lawyers of the wealthy opposing parties they bring cases against and sue in the law courts.

Alas, I myself have had terrible experiences in the past, with supposedly high-flying legal luminaries - shameless and avaricious lawyers who happily take cash from clients, but instead of taking up their cases in earnest, proceed to: procrastinate; ignore phone calls; and prevaricate when confronted with evidence of their perfidy.

Indeed I have come to the conclusion that resorting to arbitration is a much much better option for the average person, than relying on our oft-opaque and byzantine criminal and civil court system to get justice.

Surely, the time has come for the larger Ghanaian society to demand that our nation's present crop of medical doctors, other healthcare professionals, lecturers in our tertiary institutions, lawyers and members of the other professions in Ghana, ought to be less greedy for money - and a tad more honest and ethical: in their dealings with the general public?

Tel: 027 745 3109.

Email: peakofi.thompson@gmail.com

Columnist: Thompson, Kofi