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Dr Jones Gyedu Writes

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When the WHO warns of a catastrophe if the Covid-19 gains root in Africa where there’s a largely moribund healthcare system, our leaders don’t listen. And sometimes you wonder if it’s just due to crass incompetence or they intentionally do this to their own citizens.

Our healthcare system will collapse in a heap within a week or two if we start seeing 10% of the figures being reported in Italy or Iran where according their government one person dies of Covid-19 every 10 minutes (as at yesterday)

But what do we see? Our leaders cannot enforce the very measures they themselves have announced. Yesterday, a friend called me, in obvious distress. Her cousin returned from the UK on Tuesday and is moving about freely. This “burger” had called her for directions to her house so she could visit. Afraid, she deliberately hanged the call and called me for advice. When she asked the burger why she hasn’t quarantined herself, her response was that even in the UK where she came from people are still going to work and visiting family members so she should forget the virus!

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This friend of mine was genuinely worried and felt that if the state had taken measures to quarantine her cousin or at least supervised her quarantine, she wouldn’t have been faced with a choice of ruining a family relationship by refusing to meet her, upon my advice.

As a country, we lack basic supplies and even running water in our facilities. In the United States of all places, doctors and nurses are being urged to use scarfs and bandanas in lieu of face masks due to shortages. This is how serious this whole thing has become.

The United States has tens of thousands of ventilators. And yet, they are struggling. If you care to know, this country cannot keep more than fifty (50) people on ICU at the same time.

A year ago, my department operated a 26-year old woman who came to us in haemorrhagic shock from ruptured ectopic. After surgery, she still remained unconscious on the theater table, and we decided she needed to be at an ICU with a ventilator. Korle Bu said their ICU was full. I personally went to 37 Military Hospital to beg for them to accept our case. Their 10 ICU beds were full too, so I was told.

Her surgery was completed around 3pm. We kept taking turns to physically use the ambubag to bag and supply her lungs with oxygen until she passed away around 4am the next day.

Three days ago, a director from the GHS came to a facility I was working to check up on our preparedness for dealing with covid-19. When I asked about the number of confirmed cases we can “admit and manage” at both Ridge and Tema General, I was astonished at the number. But we have created an impression in the minds of the populace that “we are prepared”.

Diagnosing and treating patients infected with the virus is off the table for us, should the numbers begin to rise. This is why we must take the precautionary measures serious.

And our leaders should rise up to the occasion and enforce the measures imposed by them.

You don’t fight a pandemic by standing behind big microphones and speaking plenty grammar.

The GMA has called for a suspension of the NIA registration which, undoubtedly, is problematic. We say we won’t listen, arguing that there are other crowded places like markets. But people forget that if there are 100 crowded places and you close one, you no longer have 100. I hope for the best for our country and pray that the number of infections remain controlled.

But if our leaders don’t listen and things get out of hand, no one should start giving lectures on the Hippocratic oath to persons who may decide to abandon the hospitals to go into farming.


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