I remember years back returning from the Soviet Union as a doctor, to which I am proud and grateful. Somebody inundated with hate said to me in public that how can I be a doctor when I left school in form three. Whatever went into me, I just kept my peace not a word was uttered.
I remember the Daily Mail headline wrote in the late 60’s that “Russian doctors are trained to kill”.
Coming back from England with a postgraduate qualification, one of my bosses was so vanquished with jealousy and hate refuse to allow me to work in his department even as a government employee of the Ministry of Health. All because I made it he did not. In frustration, I had to leave Sierra Leone for a better international job. Even though I resigned somebody wrote to my organisation that I have not resigned from the Sierra Leone Government service that I continue to collect my salary. Luckily, my letter of resignation and reply from the government was at hand.
So Dr. Kojo Carew this is the Sierra Leone we have found ourselves; it is the vogue His Excellency Tejan Kabbah called it PHD Syndrome.
I am taken aback to hear that people die at The Blue Shield Hospital instead of being cured. With all my years of practice, I have never seen a hospital where people don’t die, but what was not explicit, the circumstances in which these deaths occur.
Today we have several hospitals mushrooming run by so called foreign doctors or nurses. Nobody in Sierra Leone can tell what are their qualifications, because most of them have not registered or refuse to register with the Sierra Leone Medical and Dental Association, in order to verify their qualifications.
This registration is an act passed by Parliament that all medical practioners must register with the Board; I shall be grateful if the time and energy being spent to write about Blue Shield Hospital is also spent to investigate some of these hospitals where patients are given infusions commonly known as drips five-six litres at a time sitting or standing, operations are carried out and allow to go home the same day to their unhygienic homes.
These so called doctors hawk drugs from house to house. The electronic and print media are guilty of encouraging the advertisement of unregistered medical care centres, we even see the advertisement of herbalist from across the boarder, who professes to cure everything from AIDS to Cancer, when we know it is wrong, misleading and against medical ethics.
As Sierra Leoneans we should be proud of Dr. Kojo Carew, a son of the soil has returned home to build a hospital which is a sacrifice, dedication, and above all patriotic. At least he has neither gone to the mountains to cut our forest to build houses to be rented for dollars nor decided to invest his money in Europe or America, but has decided to help necessitude’s in Sierra Leone.
Let us emulate his deeds. What we need now is to help and guide him so that his institution will grow from strength to strength and be assured that we do not need to be evacuated for medical care abroad.
The health situation is detiorating at least in Freetown. It is filthy, the drainage system stinks, and the air is polluted with smoke from refuse composed of plastics and exhaust fumes.
Most of the drainage system are now used to flush in sewage, very few houses especially where the so call “pan bodies” are situated have cesspits or sewage pits. Today there are more chest infections Rhinitis, and Sinusitis than a few years back, because the air is heavily polluted, cancer of the lungs which was rare will be seen in the increase in the next few years, compounded by cigarette smoking, typhoid, diarrheal disease. Tuberculosis is in the increase. This is where there are deaths. This is why we need to encourage our doctors to stay and be given better conditions of service than pay them less than one hundred dollars a month. I have always advocated that this is the opportune time to train our brilliant young doctors as specialist. Within the next few years we will not have any specialist to be replaced because the present ones are getting old.
Sierra Leone needs surgeons, brain surgeons, urologists, bone surgeons, physicians etc. Skeptics believe that if they are given scholarships and sent abroad they will not come back. Some of us who are vociferous about them not coming back have their children abroad. Once an agreement is reached with the host governments, they will come back.
We need to expose our doctors to advanced countries for experience and for our development. Let us don’t dawdle with the future of our young doctors, like in the 70s and 80s it was the young Russian trained doctors who saved the health service from collapsing. Today it will be our local doctors trained by the College of Medicine that will save the health service.
Foreigners will come and go! Our doctors will stay
If we are to bring back to glory the health service, we have to have the following:
1) Re-introduced the system of sanitary inspectors and the power to prosecute offenders especially those who abuse the drainage system with refuse and sewage. Let us as citizens have the confidence that we can have redress when the sanitation is abused.
2) Let us train and improve the conditions of service of our doctors like what we give to our foreign doctors
3) The checks and balances which our local electronic and print media are eager to uphold must be extended to those of our foreign hospitals and clinics, so that we can be assured that the doctors who work there are better equipped to treat our nationals and are properly registered.