Some enraged residents of Bongo, a district in Ghana’s Upper East Region, are demanding the transfer of the medical superintendent and the storekeeper of the state-run hospital in the area.
Demonstrators took over the streets on Thursday, giving the two officials only thirty days to leave the hospital.
Several women joined in the rally, holding protest placards above their heads and singing as they marched through the streets.
The reasons for their demands were inscribed in a petition addressed to the District Chief Executive of Bongo, Rita Atanga, by the organisers of the street demonstration, the United Brothers Association (UBA).
They accused the long-serving medical superintendent, Dr William Gudu, of preventing other doctors from working with him at the hospital except his son to whom the demonstrators, who are not sure about his son’s professional status, said he had exclusively assigned the hospital’s “sensitive” children’s ward.
Another accusation they levelled against him is that he is attached to no other unit at the hospital than the maternity ward because of “some financial rewards he derives” from it.
Not even when there were emergencies on the other wards would he bother, despite crisis calls from nurses, except when such cases occurred on the maternity ward, the protesters added.
“Also, the hospital has a power plant (generator). But this plant is mostly not in use whenever power from the national grid goes off. Our checks indicate that there is mostly no fuel to power the plant and on the few occasions where there is fuel, he only powers it when he has a job to do in ‘his ward’ (the maternity ward). This leaves the hospital premises very dark at night,” they said.
They breathed fire at the storekeeper, Baba Jamal, for reportedly lacking transparency and accountability in the way he took delivery of drugs— a style they said was a departure from the path trodden and handed down to him by his predecessors.
“We have information that on 22nd November, 2022, forty pieces of rabies vaccines were delivered to the hospital but only nine were accounted for when confronted by other officers in the facility,” they revealed.
“A 50-inch television [set] that was donated to the hospital on 15th June, 2022, was taken away by the storekeeper until an officer confronted him [whereupon] he brought it back to the hospital.
“We also have information that drugs and other items delivered to the hospital are not totally issued and we suspect some of these drugs find their way out of the hospital through illegal channels,” their petition stated.
In addition to the accusations directed at the two officials of the hospital, the protesters also pointed at some issues they described as “general concerns”.
They raised a concern that the hospital had failed to hold a single board meeting in years. Then, they asked: “Has the board been dissolved? Are board members uncooperative?”
Also of concern to them was alleged unavailability of drugs at the hospital, lateness of laboratory staff to work, chronic absence of consultants particularly on Thursdays and Fridays during night hours and dubious recording of drugs bought outside by patients in the e-claims of the National Health Insurance Scheme as drugs administered to patients at the hospital.
“The actions and inactions of these two senior officers of the hospital [have] made working in the hospital so unattractive that some officers have left before their time and more officers have plans of leaving the hospital based on information from close sources.
“A one-month ultimatum from the date of submission of this petition (i.e. 27th July, 2023) is hereby served for the medical superintendent of the Bongo District Hospital to be transferred from the hospital and replaced with another medical doctor as soon as possible.
“In our careful judgment, we believe that he has done his bit for the district and should not be seen to be overstaying his welcome. A good dancer must know when to leave the stage!” they declared.
Continuing, they added: “The storekeeper of the Bongo District Hospital [should] be transferred from the hospital and replaced by another. Though we have information that he has received a transfer letter but in the event that he still intends to stay in the facility, we demand that he is transferred based on the one-month ultimatum in our first demand above.”
The protesters also called for the hospital’s board to be “revived, or constituted, as soon as possible to ensure that the facility operates efficiently.”
“In the event that these demands are not met as requested, we will continue to use other options available to us to ensure that our demands are met. We have resolved never to relent on this all-important journey to ensure that Bongo gets the best because we know we also deserve the best,” they stressed.
Meanwhile, Dr Gudu has declined to speak to the accusations with the press.
“Are you the one the petition is given to?” he responded when Word FM’s Gaspard Ayuureneeya contacted him on the telephone after the demonstration.
“So, why do you have to come and be asking me these questions? Please, I’m not prepared to speak to this,” he rebuffed as the journalist pressed him for answers.
Below is a full copy of the group’s petition:
Source: Edward Adeti/Media Without Borders/mwbonline.org