It is not a nasty delight on the streets of Ghana/Africa to hear ordinary citizens say that their elites are “not sensible enough,” “stupid” and “lack wisdom” in midwifing their progress. Ghanaians say in terms of their elites and progress that there is “home sense” and there is “school sense,” an indication that the elites, as directors of progress, lack wisdom and balance in driving progress. Sierra Leoneans will tell you in the same context that, “it is sense that makes books and not books that make sense.”
Two months ago, one of Africa’s leading thinkers, Kenya’s Prof. Ali Mazrui, said that African elites are “mediocre” for failing to push for a realistic development process. Mazrui meant that for not thinking within African values first and any other second as the Japanese and the Chinese have done, African elites have become mediocre and confused. Africa is the only region in the world whose development paradigms are dominated by foreign values to the detriment of its tried, tested and rich indigenous values.
The idiocy of African elites’ inability to mix their rich cultural values with colonial legacies as the Malaysians, Brazilians, Japanese and South Koreans have done was revealed when Ghana’s thoughtful Minister of Health, Courage Quashigah, stated the distress as his ministry has tried to “incorporate psychic and traditional healers into the mainstream of health delivery” in Ghana’s orthodox health system. The country’s elites have deliberately sabotaged the ministry’s attempts. From South America to China and Japan, elites, driven more by wisdom, a key element in progress, have skillfully integrated some of their indigenous cultural practices “like the divine methods used in healing and the use of herbs to cure serious sicknesses” into their health care system. There is urgent need for Ghanaian/African health officials to go the Chinese way and mix the traditional with the orthodox informed by the fact that in Africa, up to 80 percent of the population uses traditional medicine for primary health care.
The inability of Quashigah and his ministry to mix Ghanaian traditional medicine with the orthodox shows that Ghanaian elites still think Ghanaian values are inferior. Almost 50 years after independence from British colonial rule, Ghana’s education system, like the rest of Africa, is still heavily Eurocentric against the need for heavy Ghanaian/African values centredness. It is in this state of mediocrity, as Mazrui would say, that the Ghanaian health scene, like the rest of Africa, is in a confusing state, worsened by terrible sanitation practices that have made the Ghanaian life shorter.
Health policies do not take into consideration the history, interest, cultural values, and experiences of Ghanaians. Let Dr. Agyeman Badu Akosah, head of the Ghana Health Services, and his medical associates, with their exaggerated image and high-sounding rhetoric, tell Ghanaians whether in developing their health policies, they consult “socio-economic conditions of the typical village practitioner, their belief systems and how that affects practice orientation; and perceptions as to whether traditional medicine could be taught and practiced as part of the formal health care sector.”
This is not only unhelpful in Ghana’s progress but smack of elites who lack wisdom, are not insightful enough, are unrealistic and cannot think well in the grand development of their country. No doubt, Quashigah said that the elites see their own indigenous medicine “evil” though hailed globally as “good.”
In this regard, the entire Ghanaian health system environment does not reflect the true Ghana medicine: it demeans Ghanaians rich indigenous medicine by failing to bring the traditional on board the orthodox in the grand health fixture as the Chinese, the Latinos and Japanese have done. The Chinese, who rank first in the world in the export of traditional medicine, have been able to develop their traditional medicine at the rate of around 17 to 18 percent, with a total output of around US$10 billion in 2005. The Chinese exported US$700 million traditional medicine last year.
The challenge for Dr. Agyeman Badu Akosah and his cohorts is how to bring Quashigah and associates on board their health match, demonstrate high creativity informed by their global exposure, go the Chinese way, and hammer traditional medicine into mainstream Ghanaian healthcare. Ghanaians have the right to this new healthcare thinking.
By Kofi Akosah-Sarpong
Expo Times Independent Sierra Leone
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