An acclaimed Ghanaian Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, Dr. Michael K. Obeng, has called for drastic reforms to be made to Ghana’s healthcare system to prevent needless deaths.
He is of the view that access to healthcare in this present age should no longer be difficult because “Ghana is not a poor country anymore.”
“The healthcare system has to change in the sense that we need to educate the general public about their health and let the general public take an active interest in seeking help because I don’t care how good a doctor or a surgeon is – they can’t help you when you have gone past a certain stage,” he said.
Since 2008, Dr. Obeng has been leading a team of doctors to Ghana and Asia once every year to provide free surgery to people who are in dire need of plastic surgery but cannot afford it. This project is undertaken under his ‘Restore’ charity organization.
This year, he led a team of 22 doctors, nurses and support staff to Ghana and in all, 67 patients in need of various types of plastic surgeries were restored.
Describing this year’s mission to Ghana as the “biggest ever since 2008,” Dr. Obeng explained that most of the patients he and his team saw had burns, big tumors and mostly late stage breast cancer in young women.
In a conversation with Kwaku Sakyi-Addo, host of the award-winning show, The Lounge last Friday, Dr. Obeng lamented saying, “to see a country as Ghana to have a 29-year-old woman not being able to get care because the pathology report took four months, knowing that this person was coming to you for a second opinion for breast cancer, you shouldn’t wait for more than a week to get a pathology report. It doesn’t take a day to prepare slides and also about 30 minutes or less to review the slides.”
According to him, a situation of this nature “gets you angry” adding that “the volunteers were angry but you had to calm them down and explain to them how the system works.”
“I think we are at a point that any woman should not die of breast cancer. There is a cure for it. If it’s presented early, it can be managed early and the patient can be treated in a possible manner to prevent any death,” he added.
Dr. Obeng advised that it is imperative for authorities to bring more awareness to health because “a lot of people don’t care about their health, they care more about life after death; funerals. When someone dies, people troop in with gifts. We should use some of these resources to save lives and not celebrate death. We love the dead too much; sometimes more than the living and I think this is an attitude we need to change as a country.”
This, he said is necessary because “these days, Africans are not dying of infectious and communicable diseases anymore. The same diseases that are killing the whites are killing us because of the permeation of western culture into our system.”
The Lounge with Kwaku Sakyi-Addo airs live on Starr FM every Friday from 7pm to 8pm and on GHOne TV on Sundays from 8pm to 9pm.