Ghana / Health

When the Lights Go Out

“Ghana’s official figure for maternal deaths has been disputed for many years”.

This statement alone is enough to warrant the full blog post. It struck me. It struck me even more than the title struck me. It struck me because of its implication – that not only have women been put in the grave because a ‘ natural biological process’ has become akin to ‘a ritual death process’, but the reality that there might be many of these deaths undocumented – no record to serve as proof of their suffering because there are no structures in place except a documentary or exploration by a frustrated group of professionals and individuals.

I know for a while now I have been advocating the need for larger changes in the ‘structures’ of thought, the ‘structures’ of feeling and the ‘structures’ of systems, but I do not think I have underscored enough the depth of what I mean by these things I advocate. I assume in no way, that I am in a position to ‘know better’ but I do assume, I am in a position to contribute, to pour out, to rant. So here we go:

I mean that the first step to finding solutions is identifying the problem. I mean that it is impossible to fully recognize the weight of social responsibility we have until we recognize the depth of the need. I mean that our maternal health efforts will be lacklustre and lacking maximum (and the key word here is maximum, take note), zeal or urgency if we do not know the actual death toll in every region every year. The more we become aware, the more fiery our passions, the more we’ll bear the brunt of discomfort to achieve our goal, the more our ethos motivates us above our pay (case-in-point: doctor’s strike being contemplated in Ghana), the more we will hold governments accountable (case-in-point again: doctor’s strike again being lobbied for in government), the more we realize the weight and worth of our actions, the more we get done in so little time (the word is ‘efficiency’ isn’t it?), the more we become a bunch of fiery, over-zealous, vociferous, passionate, irrepressible movers and shakers, culture-shifters, social advocates, effective patriots, powerful people.

And it all starts with the numbers.

The moment we realize the sheer magnitude and scale of widespread social injustice, inequality and marginalism, the moment the numbers cease to be a static and become a personal insult to our existence – we become useful humans.

With all of this said, kudos to the valiant doctors and medical officers and government people who are demonstrating parts of what i describe above in an ideal society. I celebrate your pursuit of all things good, your efforts against the odds, your passion and frustrations and dedication, and most of all, I celebrate the room and space you have, can or must make in yourselves … for more.



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