Opinions of Wed, 12 Oct 20167

The surgeon’s corroded knife: A horrifying tale of Prof. Frimpong-Boateng

Ghana’s burgeoning democracy would have been more attractive to many without political bigotry. The primitive intolerance and acrimony that have characterized Ghanaian politics is no respecter of human life. For example, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng established the national cardiothoracic center (NCTC) to provide health care services for individuals with heart-related diseases.

This great physician had been kicked out of the center, albeit the urgent need for more cardiovascular specialists in Ghana, all in the name of partisan politics. The famous Russian writer, Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) wrote: “a man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite.”

Can somebody still govern Ghana with Professor Kwabena-Frimpong at the NCTC or people just sacrificed him for the sake of their political appetite? Could the doyen of Gold Coast politics, Dr. J. B Danquah be right when he reportedly said Ghana is not worth dying for? The purpose of this article is to reflect on the contributions of Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng towards Ghana’s healthcare development.

Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng was born in 1950 to one Mr. Kofi Frimpong. The young Frimpong-Boateng studied physics and mathematics and was hoping to be an engineer. He changed his career goal and decided to be a medical doctor. He was offered a scholarship to study medicine in Germany. Frimpong-Boateng’s father died out of heart injury due to road traffic accident before his birth. Hovering between hope and apprehension as a child, Frimpong-Boateng nurtured an idea later to be a heart surgeon in order to help people in similar situations like his late father (Compassionate boy! God bless you).

Brilliant Frimpong-Boateng translated his dream into reality when he became a heart surgeon. He returned to Ghana after his training. He joined the University of Ghana Medical School as a lecturer in 2000 and was promoted associate professor the same year.

He was made a full professor in 2002. He also served as the head of the department of Surgery at the University of Ghana Medical School, prior to his appointment as the Chief Executive of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in 2002. He was elected to the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences in December 2002 and gave his inaugural lecture the following year. Frimpong-Boateng also runs a charitable foundation, the Ghana Heart Foundation, which is responsible for paying for heart surgery of some Ghanaian clients under his care.

Out of patriotic zeal, he used his own money to set up national cardiothoracic center at the Ghana’s biggest hospital, Korle bu Teaching hospital (I stand for correction on the sources of money for the establishment of NCTC). Be that as it may, there was/is NCTC established by Professor Frimpong- Boateng.

The National Cardiothoracic Centre (NCTC), in Accra, Ghana, commenced operations in 1989 and was officially commissioned on April 2, 1992.

“It has since been the foremost center for the investigation and management of cardiovascular diseases not only in Ghana but also in the West African sub-region. It has also grown to become the hub for the training of cardiovascular surgeons, cardiologists and anesthetists

These and other training programs of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons and the West African College of Physicians have helped to increase the stock of trained cardiovascular care givers, but the deficit remains enormous as cardiovascular care givers are in short supply even in advanced jurisdictions.

The situation in Ghana and the sub-region is precarious; against the backdrop of an ever increasing population requiring these services. This calls for innovative training programs to cater for the short, medium and long term needs of the population. The need to train and incorporate non-cardiologists into the corps of cardiovascular caregivers cannot be overemphasized.

The NCTC has therefore identified this strategy as a viable short and medium term option to improve the diagnosis and management of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) in Ghana. To this end, training symposia on the diagnosis and management of common cardiovascular diseases have been held since 2008 on a regular basis” (Source: The Pan African Medical Journal, January, 2012). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3283026/

Fellow countrymen, a visionary government gave Frimpong-Boateng a scholarship to study medicine abroad and a visionless government says in spite of his lofty professorial and professional expertise, he is not needed in Ghana because he (Frimpong-Boateng) belongs to other political party. Professor Frimpong-Boateng himself confirmed on TV3 Ghana’s program, “Hot Issues” hosted by the veteran journalist, Mr. Kwesi Pratt Jr. that his appointment was terminated.

The government can built whatever standard hospitals, without qualified professionals, it does not mean anything. Patients are flown from Bolgatanga, Wa, Tamale, Sunyani and other regional hospitals to Accra for cardiovascular related problems. Can’t the government partner with this great physician to set up cardiothoracic centers in every region or district in Ghana?

As George Leonard observed; “We can conceive of a future without high-rises. But humanity without music and love is not just inconceivable; it is impossible.” We cannot joke with the healthcare needs of Ghanaians.

When brilliant experts speak on issues relating to their field, then inexperienced government communicators will come out to infuse it with their political casuistry. What is our final fictive goal as a country? That is Ghana for you! A country with paradoxical and enigmatic characters. A country where hypocrisy is a social scaffolding.

A country where the constitution guarantees freedom of association and yet opposition members are regarded as enemies.

A country where the sick apart from politicians and “the privileged few” goes to hospital with rickety vehicles while the dead goes to necropolis (cemetery) with an ambulance.

A country where the likes of Fiifi Kwetey’s propaganda and economic sophistry triumph over Dr. Bawumia or Dr. Kwesi Botchey’s evidence-based economic analysis.

The surgeon’s knife is corroding while the sick continues to die from cardiovascular diseases because he (Frimpong-Boateng) is not part of the ruling government. Hmmm!

If a caring bird mistaken a basket for a nest, I guess the egg will still be useful. Professor Frimpong-Boateng is needed in the health sector. He is a Ghanaian who can rescue citizens including the ruling NDC members from cardiovascular related diseases.

The bifurcation of Ghana on political lines will hardly inure to the benefit of all. God bless Our Homeland Ghana. “I know that I am intelligent because I know that I know nothing.” (Socrates).

Columnist: Nana Yaw Osei

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