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Can we Ghanaians Trust our Lives on Cuba-trained Doctors?

Can we Ghanaians Trust our Lives on Cuba-trained Doctors?

Ghana and Cuba have a mutual arrangement to train Ghanaians who have a

clout to study medicine and qualify to be doctors under a Cuba

government scholarship scheme. This very kind gesture of the Cuban

authorities is not demanding any form of reciprocity, neither by way of

exchange of same nor by payment in kind; thanks to the leadership

arrangements of ex-President Rawlings. For many years now, some selected

Ghanaians continue to flock into Havana – Cuba to be trained in the

medical sciences and other allied fields for the benefit of Ghanaians.

The objective of this offer of training by Cuba is to save lives and an

ability to postpone death where necessary by capable trained hands,

competent enough to fulfil this unique objective as enshrined in the

Hippocritic oath ingeminated in the Helsinki and Nuremberg declarations.

To achieve this objective, capable students with the relevant clout and

capacity-building must be the sole criteria for selection, yet what we

see in Ghana is a nepotic selection of favourates based on Party

political colours and flavour; a selection of incapable Party faithful

with no smattering of knowledge in anatomical and biological sciences

but can only qualify for selection by reason of Party-belonging where

the said Party is the ruling authority, hence even housemaids with the

poorest of poor SHS grades are pushed on to pursue a course of training

to become doctors in Cuban institutions where they are enroled as a

matter of protocol curtesy without checking their academic and

vocational suitability.

The image inserted in this script is my uncle who walked into Sefwi

Wiawso hospital on an arranged appointment to undergo a surgical

operation to remove a hernia. To his woe, he walked into this hospital

with intent to undergo a healing process on a surgical table but ended

up on a butcher's table only to be carried home in a coffin. Nana Kwaku

Besseah, Agyaaku as he was affectionately called, walked into the

hospital on Monday 4th November 2006 with his full life in vigour and

agility, was butchered and pronounces dead the following day as a result

of some botched up surgical operation performed by a Cuba-trained

'Doctor', a butcher indeed, leaving behind a widow and six hapless

children. This hospital, staffed with surgeons trained-in-Cuba of a high

magnitude of incompetence did not accept vicarious responsibility on

grounds of bioethical incompetence and impropriety in the conduct of the

operation by the said 'doctor'/butcher. There have been similar such

cases across Ghana where victims have suffered untold jeopardy at the

hands of medically incompetent doctors who are later identified to have

been trained in Cuba.

A young woman in Berekum claimed on Hot FM radio to have suffered loss

of her entire womb a few weeks ago through a supposed medical treatment

at an approved hospital. This woman who will remain childless for the

rest of her life complained to the authorities for compensation yet what

she received was insults and vilification by the hospital authorities.

Ghana needs stricter laws governing the medical profession whereby

incompetence can be punished either jointly or severally as it pertains

in other countries as a way to foster competence. R v Adomako (1994) All

ER vol 74 is a cited case involving medical negligence in English Law

against incompetence.

I do not blame the incompetence on the training so received in Cuba per

se, I blame it on the selection; a selection which does not take into

consideration any innate clout, a desired connation, zeal and passion,

the qualifying criteria of the candidate to become what the intended

selection so made aims at achieving. Medicine, like legal or

architectural studies is full of challenges whereby practitioners aim to

achieve beyond the ordinary with zeal and passion. Much as a legal

practitioner strives to make legal history through professional

expertise, architects designing structures beyond the ordinary, so are

doctors and physicians. Signs of extreme attristed sorrow is visibly

expressed on the faces of competent Doctors and nurses when they are

unable to save a life even in dire and hopeless situations.

Fabrice Muamba, a Bolton mid-fielder collapsed on the playing field at

White Hart Lane, an incident in which Muamba was said to have stopped

breathing, (virtually dead) for 72 minutes yet through the very

challenging efforts of paramedics, furthered by the well trained and

dedicated Doctors of the cardiology department of Chase Farm hospital,

the 'dead' Muamba was revived. Such is the joy and pride of studying

medicine and indeed any profession; to prove and exhibit an acute

knowledge and practice of what the brain has been cultivated for through

training but not to practice a profession perfunctorily for the sake of

doing a job.

In view of the cost involved in training our doctors both at home and

abroad, the NDC administration under John Mahama has made Ghanaians to

believe though erroneously that, the cost of training a doctor in Cuba

is US$5,000 however the fact remains that the training is under a full

scholarship scheme by Cuban government yet Ghana spends US$50,000 on

every medical student trained in Cuba. In the government's untenable

explanation regarding the extra massive cost, if the parents of the

students were to be responsible for paying for their training, they

wouldn't indulge in such inordinate profligacy. In view of this,

wouldn't it be more prudent to invest more in expanding our own training

facilities in our teaching hospitals to produce more home-made

physicians under a better competitive selection process to achieve the

best? My question enquires into if it is just the prestige of having

been trained outside one's country. If Ghana can spend so much on

'incompetent' training, it would be better to have those so selected

trained in better university hospitals worldwide. If it is not the fault

of the trainer institutions, then the blame must be on the selection

process that decides how prospective trainees are so selected. There are

several Ghanaians who were cobbled up out of political convenience to

study agriculture in the former Soviet Union where the so-called

graduated and returned to Ghana improperly qualified with insufficient

knowledge in agriculture to enhance agriculture input but rather became

propaganda personnel of the defunct CPP of the 1960s.

There are indeed some Ghana-trained doctors, a few of whom I know as

former school mates who practice as physicians in British health

institutions with satisfactory performance after going through a brief

orientation training. On the contrary, there are Doctors from other

former Soviet communist block who are required to redo the full length

of their training so received before being accepted into British medical

institutions. I therefore see no point in not expanding our existing

medical institutions which are as equally competitive as those even in

the advanced countries. We in Ghana do not have trained career advisers

who are capable of delving into our post-secondary education incident to

choosing a course for professional training. How on earth could

hairdressers and housemaids be selected for training as Doctors in Cuba?

No British university hospital would accept such candidates for medical

training because if their GCSE results were satisfactory enough, no

amount of frustration would push them to opt for hairdressing and

serving as house-maids incident to becoming physicians. This clearly

shows that candidates are selected out of political convenience but I

must tell readers that training to become a medical practitioner should

not a matter of convenience but that sacrifice, high standard mental

qualities, devotion and dedication. The medical profession can only be

pursued by best brain high calibre people who can cultivate their brains

to produce the best for patients as good and not bad Samaritans to staff

our hospitals The medical profession is so challenging that it doesn't

make room for vainglorious certification to brag of; it rather places

extreme importance on high hopes of expert performance that brings joy

and contentment to be proud of.

It is expected that an in-coming His Excellency Akufo Addo

administration from January 2013 will ensure competence in handling our

patients to safe precious lives through giving training only to the

right and committed candidates irrespective of Party belonging to pursue

medical studies both at home and abroad because Ghana first. It is

poised to be a government that is people-centred and will not gamble

with peoples' lives by reason of political expediency, a selection based

on job for the boys and girls as we witness in a total of over 23 years

of P/NDC administration where butchers rather than Doctors are trained

to staff our hospitals.

Adreba Kwaku Abrefa Damoa; London UK

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December 2012
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