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and medical treatment abroad
June 18, 2012
I laughed at
the irony when I learnt President Bingu wa Mutharika had been flown
to South Africa from Malawi for emergency medical treatment after
having a suspected cardiac arrest on 5 April this year. His own
hospitals could not give him any chance of recovery. If the number
one citizen of one of the poorest countries in the world doesn-t
stand an iota of a chance of survival in his own hospitals, what
more of his 13 million impoverished Malawian subjects. His people
survive on less than $1 a day. How many of his subjects have passports
to cross the border for treatment let alone funds to get to the
nearest airport? I almost had a fit when I read on to learn that
his own morgues wouldn-t have been hospitable enough for him
because of the power cuts and lack of good refrigeration. His own
mortuaries prepared to protest vehemently of his presence by making
him rot faster, hence the decision to fly him to South Africa in
the dead of the night for embalming. And then a countryman aptly
sums it up for him and I quote, we know he is dead and unfortunately
he died at a local, poor hospital which he never cared about - no
drugs, no power," said Chimwemwe Phiri, a Lilongwe businessman
waiting in a line of cars for fuel at a petrol station close quote.
Meanwhile former president Bakili Muluzi is reported to have suspended
his medical trip to South Africa to attend Mutharika-s funeral.
Did this same man not preside over the death and decay of the medical
instituitions in his country. Why do the citizens of Malawi allow
their number one citizens to cross the border for treatment? Do
we not say local is lekker?
Aljazeera 514 channel screaming headline on 7 April is telling me
(the obese - of course from over indulgence) Hugo Chavez of
Venezuela is travelling to Cuba for the third time since February
for further cancer treatment. I am tempted to pull out my hair,
but immediately stop at attempting this feat as I am clean shaven!
This is one amongst many of his trips abroad for the elusive world
class treatment on home soil. Again, I ask how many of his own Venezuelan
people have that luxury of hopping on to privately chartered planes
and whisked to exclusive private treatment spas. Again, I digress,
it is the preserve of despots to have world class care whilst their
subjects make do with lemon peels, aloe vera extracts and paracetamol
for prostate, ovarian and breast cancer, malaria, diabetes, asthma
and my dear reader the endless you know list of the many plagues
of the African continent. Pardon me, I know paracetamol is not even
that readily available either. Chavez was reported praying during
the Easter period saying "Give me your crown, Jesus. Give me
your cross, your thorns so that I may bleed. But give me life, because
I have more to do for this country and these people. Do not take
me yet," Chavez added, standing below an image of Jesus with
the Crucifix. What more can one ask for if God has given you access
to the resources to build and maintain your own infrastructure.
Oh, come on man, pray for Solomon-s wisdom.
In six months,
my very own Dear Leader, the democratic elected President of the
Republic of Zimbabwe, Zanu-PF-s First Secretary, Commander
of the Defence Forces, Chancellor of University of Zimbabwe, NUST,
MSU, Lupane and number one citizen has been to Singapore no less
than 6 times. In one of the trips, it was reported to be for a cataract
removal and the subsequent check ups. Really, a cataract removal
in Singapore! Let me suss you out on the possible costs involved
here, the cost of hiring out a plane, the entourage and bootlickers,
the foreign currency drain etc. Would that money not go a long way
on equipping one state hospital to allow for a thousand cataract
removals for the elderly persons of Zimbabwe. Cataract surgery is
one of the most common and quickest forms of surgery. Many people
are able to return to their usual daily routine 24 hours after having
the operation. The procedure to remove a cataract usually lasts
30-45 minutes, and vision is improved almost immediately. But does
our dear leader always immediately return home? You know the answer.
The Kenyan presidential
candidate Mwai Kibaki of Kenya travelled to London for medical treatment.
This was after a car accident on 3 December 2002. At that time he
was expected to stay in a private hospital in west London for at
least three days. What kind of treatment was he expecting you may
wonder. The visit was for specialists to consider further treatment
on his fractured arm and sprained ankle. It had further on reported
that Mr Kibaki's personal physician, Dr Dan Gikonyo, said they had
decided to take him to the UK just to check the work of local doctors
and surgeons! If this were not a tragic indictment of poor governance,
I would have fallen off my chair laughing. Mwai Kibaki had been
part of the ruling establishment since 1978, and some 24 years down
the road, he didn-t have faith in his own medical establishment!
The great iconic
figure Nelson Mandela continues to have his medical treatment on
his home turf. He and his people have faith in their own medical
systems. The argument that he might be accessing private care because
the state run hospitals are being run down is neither here nor there.
He still has that option to remain in his own country and has faith
of his own doctors. Why can-t the Malawian, Zimbabwean, Venezuealan
and other African leaders invest and maintain their own medical
there enlighten me please of a developed world president or a first
world despot who has travelled to Africa for medical treatment.
Instead of sanctions
and withholding of donor funding, kick the despots where it hurts
most. Deny the despots access to first class world medical care.
Let them develop and maintain their own hospitals. Let them invest
all the foreign travel funds into upgrading their own hospitals
and stocking up on medication for themselves and their people. If
they can-t do that, at least help fund the generators of the
morgues keep functioning well to help preserve their corpses before
grand funerals. I challenge you reader, let-s name and shame
the African presidents who have sought and continue to seek medical
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