Frederick Douglass once said “Those who profess to favour freedom and yet depreciate agitation are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will”.
One must then ask why is it that the demand exists and there is no proper response to it. In the very nature, with all its riches Africa is yet to build a world class medical facility which will attract fellow world citizens to visit. All we see are African leaders now and then leaving the continent in pursuit of medical attention in the far, middle east or throughout the world. This they do with no shame. They undergo this with money of their people, a people whom are in dire need of proper medical attention and facilities. Fortunate is them who can do as they please.
Our moral duty as citizens of the continent is to hold our leadership accountable, critique them and remind them that they are products of the people. The occupation of political office must never be mistaken for favour. For it is an honour to lead your people. No African leader must be without reproach, for if such exist Africa can only get worse.
In October 2014 Zambia lost its former President Machael Sata who died in the United Kingdom. Prior to his death, he had travelled countries like India, South Africa and Israel in search of medical care. From Zambia he was not the first head of state to die in office, Levy Mwanawasa died of stroke in France. Like Sata, he himself had travelled to South Africa and the United Kingdom before. The people of Zambia over decades have continued to debate constituting a medical parole board to assess the health of the President. While at it, they have failed to develop a state hospital in their own country to respond to the medical needs of their people. Just like Frederick said these are leaders who want crops without ploughing the ground’. If you do not invest in your health care; you will have to swallow the bitter pill of having to fly throughout the world seeking help.
Currently President Mugabe of Zimbabwe is in Singapore for a medical check-up. This is a leader who left the country whilst doctors and nurses are on strike and his people in desperate need for proper health care. He is ignoring the call by his people and has gone to foreign lands to calm his head and be nursed back to health. Who will speak for the poor? The very same poor whom when they rise are reminded that the alleged west is to blame. A leader who has been in office from 1980 and still has not produced a world class hospital to take care of him and his fellow country man. In essence we wonder how many specialists has he produced? Does he even care?
Another Nation which comes to mind is Nigeria, its former President Yar’ Adua who left Nigeria in November 23 2009 for Saudi Arabia was declared dead on the 5th of May in 2010 after he had undergone pancreatic treatment and sadly passed on after a few months of his return. Currently President Buhari is also in foreign lands seeking medical attention, but the burning question remains, why has Nigeria with all its resources failed to build a facility which can respond to the needs of its people? In their quest for a better life, health care facilities must improve and their rich oil must assist them in this regard. Africa is not poor, Africa needs visionary leaders.
The colonizer is long gone, in most instances the effect of that subjugation remain in Africa and the ramifications are daily felt. Can this be the constant excuse which we give our people? In the context of South Africa, our former President Nelson Mandela had to use a military ambulance which got stuck for hours and as a result he died in his home land. A man who would have been received by any medical facility for free, chose to cast no doubt on his people’s hospitals, a rear conduct from a man like him.
The South African government has inherited infrastructure and better hospitals but the question is, will this be maintained and improved in decades to come? Seeking medical assistance from foreign lands seems to be the only option our leaders are relying on. Will better health facilities and specialists ever be prioritised and implemented if this trend continues? African leaders must individually and collectively as a continent invest in health care infrastructure. They must demonstrate a moral and political will to serve their people with dignity and dedication. We must continue to discourage leaders who when its dark, take flights and leave the poor behind; travel to the end of the world and seek medical attention while nothing is being done to improve the state of their own nations.