The sight of several empty chairs, which were reserved for staff of the Presbyterian Hospital in Bawku at a durbar organised by the hospital’s management to raise funds for patients too poor to access healthcare services at the facility, has stirred up a strong backlash against those staff.
The event started hours late as only a few of the expected staff were present. The organisers had to throw an impromptu invite to students of the nearby Bawku Nurses’ Training College to help fill the chairs to avoid an embarrassing spectacle.
The students’ response to the spontaneous call was swift. But it did not conceal all the gap as many chairs remained vacant throughout the programme. The General Manager of the Presbyterian Health Service North, who oversees the operation of the hospital in that part of the Upper East region, led the criticisms as the unexplained absence of his staff dealt him a rude shock in front of guests.
“People are financing this programme. And we told them we, as staff, would be here to encourage others to be here. Out of the sponsorship that we got, we subsidised the T-shirts that you the staff have worn by half. Where you were to pay 30, you paid 15. Where you were to pay 20, you paid 10. Wear the T-shirts, come and let’s do a small fundraising. Even the difference you should have paid for the T-shirts could have been your contribution to the fundraising. But they (the staff) are not here.
“I am being objective. I’m not from Bawku. I don’t know people here. Every month, I contribute one hundred Ghana cedis to the Poor and Sick Fund. In a year, that is one thousand, two hundred cedis. Let me mention in old Ghana cedis— twelve million (a crowd laughs and claps) — from my pocket; I don’t know them (the beneficiaries). This programme, I am funding one thousand Ghana cedis. That is ten million, for the sake of the poor and sick,” complained the General Manager, Fred Effah-Yeboah.
Funds raised for the Poor despite Staff’s Snub
The absence of the hospital staff did not prevent funds from being raised for the poor and sick.
Moments after the disappointed General Manager had said, “Don’t let us do a dragging fundraising because no one spoke to me at fundraising before I decided that I should support the poor and sick every month”, a glass box was placed at the centre of the sandy ground, where the event took place, to receive voluntary donations from the crowd.
With Eben’s danceable Victory song playing in the background, cheerful-looking givers queued from all angles towards the box like a church congregation and dumped their contributions in it. When the donations were added to some pledges made by a number of guests at the high table and some funds realised from the auction of some celebration T-shirts, an amount of nine thousand and eighty-five Ghana cedis, fifty pesewas (Gh¢9, 085.50p) had been raised for the poor and sick.
As the event drew to a close, the General Manager kept his chin in his right palm and contemplatively shook one of his crossed legs. He probably was rehearsing a suppressed outburst of temper reserved for his disappointing subordinates at the next staff general meeting, some think.
About the Poor and Sick Fund
The hospital’s “Poor and Sick Fund”, initiated some years ago, helps to provide food for poor patients on prescription medications, to register them for health insurance and to purchase for them medicines not covered by insurance.
Members of Germany’s relief agency, Brot fϋr die Welt, which means Bread for the World, kept the fund alive with donations for some years until they withdrew.
In 2017 alone, about 60, 000 Ghana cedis of the fund was spent in support of over 200 needy sick persons in Bawku, according to the hospital’s management.
The fundraising event, from which some of the hospital’s staff were absent, was part of activities jointly held by the Presbyterian Health Service North and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in celebration of the World Health Day.
The global theme for this year’s World Health Day is “Universal Health Coverage: Everyone, Everywhere”.
The celebration of the day at Bawku was themed “Maternal and Child Health— the Plight of the Poor” to suit the concern of the hospital’s management about the difficulty poor people face in accessing maternal and childcare services.