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Gambling with human lives: Focus on psychiatry and psychiatric nurses

Sun, 13 Nov 2016 Source: Kyei, Baffour Prince

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So one Monday morning I was on my way to work cruising in a trotro, about two seats

behind the conductor listening to some heated discussions on radio. The car stops and picks one guy who catches my eye because of the different colours of his shirt that made him look like a box of crayons and the numerous rings on his fingers. I looked at the guy and said to myself some people can really dress, and then I remembered a saying that each of us has his own choices so I took my attention off this guy.

Now about two minutes after our new bus mate joined us, the conductor asks him for his fare and this guy, with the confidence of the owner of the car tells the conductor that he won't pay because he is a police officer and that he is not in

uniform because he is working an undercover case. Right then the psychiatry I studied in school started popping up and I said to myself, this is probably some exhibitions of some grandiose delusions. But since I didn't attend police academy with him I kept the thought to myself.

The conductor insisted on taking his money, our undercover cop didn't want to pay. He got angry and asked to be allowed to get down right there and then and that he was no longer going to the central police station where he intended to go earlier when he joined the car. He got down and started crossing the road back and forth and shouting at anyone he met. It was then that it became apparent that our undercover cop attended police academy only in his head. The question that people in the car kept asking were; What if he had attacked someone in the car? I personalized

the question; What if he had snapped my neck or strangled me from behind or hit me with his “ring- weaponized hand”?

This situation that I witnessed is not peculiar to me or my locality. I am sure others have witnessed such situations and continue to witness more on a regular basis. This begs the question; what are these people doing at home and on the streets?

Do government officials or ministers of state care about the dangers these people pose to their neighbours and others they come into contact with? These have been on my mind until I heard again that psychiatric nurses were complaining of their clients not getting adequate drugs and had to go on a strike before

something temporary was done about it.

Even though psychiatry is not my field of specialty, the little clinical practice I had at the Ankaful Psychiatric Hospital opened my eyes to the dangers that psychiatric nurses face on a daily basis.

There were times that a patient could become so aggressive that three or four able-bodied men would be needed to sedate him. Imagine what will happen if this aggressive manic patient overpowers them. All these sacrifices made by psychiatric nurses and other health professionals have not been respected. The irony of the matter is that these people nurses who face great risk are left in harm’s way with no form of security whilst politicians who are supposed to protect the interest of the common man on the street go around in big cars with police escorts for protection. The question I ask myself is; do these politicians consider their lives more valuable than the ordinary people?

To the president and his leaders, how many of you can spend a whole day facing what

psychiatric nurses face if your armed bodyguards are not with you. I am sure out of fear some of you may collapse or do certain things I cannot mention here, yet when people put their lives on the line you sit in your high places and act as if you don’t know or care about what is going on.

To the ordinary Ghanaian like you and me, let us be open- minded about our needs and about our leaders. We should hold them accountable for every single thing entrusted to them. It is only by doing so that they will know that we or our conscience cannot be bought and that we are the ones who put them in such places of authority that make them feel they are better than us. We must all strive for a change in the status quo because we deserve much better.

Mentally challenged people and psychiatric nurses have been taken for granted for far too long.

Let us not be silent about it. God bless our homeland Ghana and make our nation great and strong, bold to defend forever, the freedom of the ordinary man on the street.

Columnist: Kyei, Baffour Prince