31 Oct 2016

Desperate Politicians!

Elections constitute a very integral aspect of democracy and are organized periodically to enable citizens of a country or organization to choose a leader who they think resonates with their aspirations as a people. The citizens are allowed to exercise their franchise freely without intimidation from any quarters. The question is, do some countries actually understand democracy at all?

Ghana is a democratic country with almost two decades of experience. Ghana's democracy is currently being touted internationally as one of the best in Africa. The country has successfully organized peaceful presidential and parliamentary elections on a four-year term basis since 1992.
Having been a keen observer of the electoral process since adolescence, so many things have changed over the years in Ghana's political space. Many people now moot the messages put across by political parties, unlike in the past where they would have towed the line of family members without regards to the message. Party manifestoes and messages members put across, both in discussions in the media and on campaign platforms are now properly scrutinized.

It is, however, not surprising to see politicians delivering vague promises just to win votes. This has become a trend in Ghana's politics. To get the required percentage of votes, all sorts of tactics are employed, including telling plain lies.

Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia pounding fufu
NPP Running mate, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, pounding fufu
during a campaign tour.
As Ghana prepares to go to the polls in 2016, it is not surprising to see political parties engage in campaign brawls just to score political points against each other. Juicy promises are being made from all angles. The question one needs to ask is, do these numerous promises get to see the light of day when they win the election? Just imagine what Ghana would become if a political party in power is able to implement just half of its manifesto promises. However, the campaign messages seem very different from what actually gets implemented after they are voted into power. Otherwise, I cannot fathom why a presidential candidate who promised to employ more graduates and also create more employment opportunities for the youth will turn around to put an embargo on employment. As a Ghanaian comedian once said, "I can't think far. I don't think madness!"
Alfred Oko Vanderpuije stirring banku
Accra Mayor, Alfred Oko Vanderpuije, stirring banku during
a campaign tour.

It is no wonder our president thinks Ghanaians have short memories because we are able to tolerate any confused leader for four years and more. I totally agree with his assertion, not that it is true but because we don't hold them accountable for their stewardship. They, therefore, assume we have forgotten their lies so soon and will entertain them for a second time.

On a daily basis, our radio and TV stations are flooded with communication teams of political parties trying to sell their campaign messages to the populace to get votes. It’s interesting to listen to how they sometimes display sheer ignorance on certain issues and end up misleading the masses.
I was thrilled by a statement made by Hon. Okudzeto Ablakwa on a radio station in an attempt to respond to his opponent's claim that the government of which he is a deputy minister, has not introduced any pro-poor social policy. His answer was, “We have supplied laptops to teachers across the country”. It baffles my mind how a learned politician can describe such an act as a pro-poor policy. How is that benefiting the peasant farmer when those laptops were given to only a selected few?

Ursula Owusu, on the other hand, said her presidential candidate has promised to relieve tertiary students from paying utility bills. Her opponent insisted that no tertiary student was paying utility bills at the time, except those in private hostels. On whether her government will pay bills for students in private hostels, she said: “the students are not in the capacity to pay bills, so they are not supposed to pay”. This implies that any student who decides to seek comfort anywhere apart from the official school accommodation will have their utility bills catered for by the government. Are we serious about politics at all?

With a few days left to this year's major elections, many politicians have become extraordinarily friendly with the electorate. It is not surprising to see men of substance pounding fufu, stirring banku, plaiting hair, sweeping floors of the electorate during campaign tours. They are ever ready to do anything to get the votes.

Elsewhere, presidential candidates are subject to debates with the active participation of the masses. Opportunities are then given the electorate to ask questions about their policies and programs. This enables the constituents to decide better on who is likely to do a good job when given the nod. The case is very different in Ghana. The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has taken up the responsibility of organizing debates for presidential candidates. However, political parties are not bound by any law to participate in those debates. A political party, therefore, decides either to participate or not. Where the debates are successfully organized, people often are not given a chance to ask questions.

Politicians often resort to lies, insults, malignment and deception of the electorate in order to score political points. And the most unfortunate thing is, some jobless youth are willing to sacrifice to see their favorite politician in power, even if they remained jobless. They are unaware that they have a duty first to the nation before any political party. They don't know that a brighter future lies in their hands, based on the kind of leader they choose.

Many more Ghanaians need to get discerning. Any Ghanaian seeking to annex the highest office of the land should be properly and thoroughly scrutinized before given the nod. Politicians should be made to know that more Ghanaians are now able to read between the lines of political gimmickry and genuine deliverable promises.

Let's follow them on their campaign tours and digest their messages. Reasonable and implementable programs and policies should inform your choice of vote. Vote based on the issues. Vote for a brighter future. Come 7th December, make your vote count in the 2016 elections. Let your voice be heard through your thumbprint. May God lead us into a peaceful election.

God bless our homeland Ghana.

Written by: Francis Appiah
The Writer is a Senior Staff Nurse (SSN) with the Ghana Health Service who also has a passion for socio-political issues.
Email: afranzoa87@gmail.com

15 Oct 2016

Nurses Attitudes; The Broader View

Nurses are the fulcrum around which the health care delivery system of any nation rotates. They are trained to be independent of other members of the health team where necessary. Nurses are still able to work if all other health workers lay down tools. Despite doing so much for so less, nurses are still by far the least respected of health care professionals.

Nurses are found everywhere championing the health affairs of families and communities, even in places no other professional wants to go. They go out of their job description every time into other related fields to help save lives. Some act as consultants in clinics, health centers, and community-based health planning services(CHPS) compounds. In these places, nurses act as prescribers, midwives, laboratory personnel, and dispensers. They even act as laborers too. They do all these without complaining because of empathy for the sick. These things are not part of the nurse's job description. Nurses are not paid for doing all that.


Nurses in Ghana
Nurses have pledged to save lives, alleviate pain and promote
Nurses have often been in the line of fire for one thing or the other that did not go right. Many people complain about the poor attitudes of nurses towards clients and their relatives. They describe nurses as being rude and even use unprintable terms on nurses. But is this claim true?

It has often been said, patients are supposed to be patient for nurses to nurse them. But can this be said of the nurse-patient relationship in Ghana?

Nurses are professionals who have pledged to help save lives, reduce pain, and prevent injury. They are not people who delight in seeing anyone go through pain, not even their enemies.


While it may be true that some nurses lack good communication skills, it is also possible that some underlying factors could be accounting for any negative behavior emanating from nurses. Some people get to the hospital and expect the nurse available to do everything for them. They see the nurse as being the 'jack of all trade". Some people think the nurse can give orders any prescriber to come to work. They, therefore, expect the nurse available to call the prescriber on duty to come attend to them. If this is not done, they get angry and begin to verbally (and sometimes physically) abuse the nurse. And they expect the nurse to keep quiet amidst a flurry of insults. No amount of explanation can calm them down.

Nurses are not superhumans. They also have feelings. To paraphrase Isaac Newton's third law of motion, action and reaction are equal and opposite. Some nurses are bound to exchange words if you attack their personality and professional competence.

Ignorance is to blame for attacks on nurses. Most of these people don't know how nurse work. They are not privy to the limitations on the nursing profession. They also don't know that calling the doctor, and any other health professional for that matter to come do the work they are being paid to do, is not the duty of a nurse. If a nurse decides to call a doctor, it is a form of personal assistance. This is because all health workers, just like the nurses, are supposed to be at post every time.


Unfortunately, everybody seems to harbor some fear for doctors and other medical personnel. They find it easy attacking and maligning nurses than doctors or prescribers. These same people often feel frustrated if they report to the health facility and do not meet a nurse at post.

Praising nurses for good work is like drinking poison, to some people. Instead of commending nurses for going the extra mile to help save lives, people always focus on the little mistakes to make nurses look bad in the sight of the public. These people are ignorant that without nurses, doctors and other prescribers cannot work effectively.

The truth is, some people detest the truth even if they know it's the truth. They don't feel comfortable when they are asked to do one thing or the other due to hospital protocols. Some see it as a waste of time being taken through laid down protocols. They are impatient patients. No explanation will ever satisfy them. And they often leave the hospital blaming nurses for having wasted their time, even if it was not the nurse's fault. Some people also associate nurses with every health worker in the hospital. They believe every health worker is a nurse. No wonder they expect a nurse to retrieve their folders from the Records department and to dispense drugs to them even in established hospitals. Some even expect nurses to conduct laboratory tests for them even if the laboratory technicians are available.

The main factor contributing to the perception of nurses being rude or careless is mainly due to ignorance. It will take some time for the public to get to grips with the actual duties of a nurse, but with patience and more education, we will get there one day.