By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

I know the situation is pretty much the same throughout the country. And here, of course, I am talking about the reportedly deplorable state of the Anyinam Health Center. When I clicked up this news item to read and possibly add my voice to passionate calls for immediate assistance by the workers and staff at the health center, I wasn’t even certain whether it was the same Akyem-Anyinam at whose health center I spent a considerable part of my first and second-grade years frequenting. This must have been sometime between 1966 and 1968. My late mother was a pupil teacher at Akyem-Kankang. I understand that today the latter town’s name has been changed to Sekyere. The people of Kankang, while I was growing up there, considered themselves to be largely of Asante descent. Perhaps migrants pushed out by the Kumasi-Dwaben wars.

wpid-Cholera-outbreak-in-Ebonyi-kills-6-8-hospitalized.jpgDuring my childhood, the much smaller town, or village, of Jejeti was better known than Kankang, obviously because Jejti was directly located on the Accra-Kumasi trunk road, as most of Ghana’s highways were then called. Jejeti was also a renowned market for foodstuff. I was struck by this news item because Anyinam boasted of the nearest modern health center in the vicinity. The nearest major health center, or hospital, was the Holy Family Hospital at Nkawkaw which was known to be run by Roman Catholic nuns and priests and a considerable percentage of expatriate health professionals, mostly Western Europeans. Once or twice, the Health Officer, or “Dispenser” at Anyinam had me rushed to Holy Family. I would also be prescribed 100 anti-malarial injections over the course of some three of four months.

Not long before she passed away, at the ripe age of 89, my eldest maternal aunt, Pastor Mary Barbara Akosua Sintim, told me that shortly after I was born, most of my relatives did not expect me to live past the age of 5. Even as I write, I am fast inching towards 55 years old. Not quite; it would take me nearly two years to get there. But I hope to arrive there hale and hearty, as the cliche goes. As a child, as Auntie Mary knowingly told me, with sparkly eyes, that I was afflicted with every kind of children’s disease that one could think of, with the exception of chicken-pox, which had afflicted two of my three older siblings.

And so when I decided to add my inky-voice to the heart-rending cries of the Anyinam Health Center staff for immediate assistance, I did so with a heart as equally sorrow-laden and wistful knowledge of the fact that without the critical professional assistance of that lone bald-headed white man who ran the Anyinam Clinic back then, I simply would have vanished from the face of the Earth as just another anonymous statistic. My Akyem-Kankang friend, Master Yaw Oteng, had not been that lucky. Before his parents could rush him to Anyinam, Yaw had died of Dengue Fever at barely 8 or 9 years old. Yaw Oteng, whose mother ran a chop bar and whose father was a hardworking farmer and a hunter, was two years my senior. His would be the first traumatic intimacy that I would have with the devastating impact of death.

Yaw Oteng was the first pupil at the Kankang Presbyterian Primary School to die during the two years that I lived and schooled in the town. I haven’t enquired about the same as yet, but today Kankang is almost certain to be equipped with its own health center. Anyway, to hear the resident pharmacist at the Anyinam Health Center tell it, virtually everything at the clinic has gone to the dogs, literally. According to Ms. Christina Akuffo-Birikorang, the clinic lacks even the most basic treatment facilities. “We don’t have an air-conditioner or a fridge to store our medicines. We also lack beds for patients.”

Further, Ms. Akuffo-Birikorang notes that the clinic has had to wholly depend on the vagaries of rain water, as all the taps at the health center have run dry. I am a bit ambivalent about all this, because the perennially erratic power supply throughout the country makes an absolute nonsense about the very idea of supplying the Anyinam Health Center with a usable refrigerator. As well as an air-conditioner, of course. And then one cannot also be certain of the economical use of a portable generator and the concrete hazard it poses to human lives, even as several generator-related deaths, largely through the inhalation of carbon monoxide, have been reported around the country recently.

Still, we hope and pray that the movers-and-shakers of the Mahama government are paying studious attention. Or maybe Nana Akufo-Addo’s electoral stronghold is decidedly outside the range of the government’s priority projects?

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
E-mail: [email protected]


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