Structure health services to protect lives
I just lost an adorable nursing cat in a bizarre circumstance, making my entire household question the treatment given by a veterinary officer.
In January 2023, a relative who uses the services of the veterinarian had recommended him.
In February, I invited him home to vaccinate our dog against rabies. I gathered from our conversation that he was knowledgeable, plus he demonstrated passion for pets and offered useful advice in caring for pets.
He gained my trust. The convenience of home service also appealed to me.
Therefore, I asked him to treat my four adult cats – two were nursing – and a dog. The cats had been coughing, signalling worm infestation. On the afternoon of Friday, September 1, he administered a shot each to the dog and one mother cat.
He did not vaccinate the other mother because he saw her nursing her kittens. Apparently, the other mother, with big kittens, was by herself so was given the shot.
By Friday evening, both pets were wobbling in the leg; by nightfall, the poor cat could not stand and had to be supported. Its appetite had diminished drastically.
The mother who cherished her kittens and protected them to admirable proportions could only allow them to suck. She could, at least, clean her face a bit with her front limbs. Still, we thought the drug effects would wear off. That did not happen.
On Sunday morning, I called veterinarian Hardi and inquired if he had inadvertently given the pets an overdose. He answered firmly that he had given each a shot only so there was no chance of overdose.
I am a lay person, but I keep asking myself if a shot could also overwhelm a pet’s system. The dog’s relatively big size probably cushioned her against the vaccine’s adverse effects.
When I explained the symptoms, Hardi advised me to give glucose to boost their strength. I started but saw no improvement for 24 hours, so I took both to the veterinary office on Tuesday.
My story only elicited meaningful glances from the two officers I met. Both pets received infusion and injections. The treatment continued till Friday, but whereas the dog improved, the cat deteriorated.
The Vet prescribed barbiturates but that could not repair the mother’s nerves. By Sunday evening, it was barely receiving the fluids I was feeding her. I did not think she would last till Monday morning, but the mother fighter only succumbed on Tuesday morning. It broke my heart to see her go, especially, when she could have lived!
On Friday, I had asked the Vet about my cat’s ailment. He answered that she was suffering from nerves. Without a cover, it shivered and could not use the back limbs at all, neither could it turn. Both officers insisted that Hardi’s vaccination had nothing to do with the cat’s breakdown.
One said the condition had been incubating. I am not doubting the coincidence, but I cannot also assure myself that veterinarian Hardi did not give the wrong treatment to my pets.
If I lived in another community, I could bring a legal action to investigate the circumstances that led to my cherished cat’s death.
Just before she was buried, my mother lamented that we had lost an excellent mother. We would be mourning a great soul if it were a human being. Majestic is survived by five catdren and four grand-kittens.
Continuing my mother’s allusion, Majestic could easily have been a human being. One reads, hears and experiences heartbreaking neglect in our hospitals, sometimes contributing to maternal mortality.
Nowadays, the sad truth is that a lot of the deaths occurring in many hospitals are avoidable. Yet, negligent health officers go scot-free!
Poor bedside manners, deliberate delays, nauseous patronage and apathy characterise most services in government hospitals.
Many doctors in public services arbitrarily redirect patients to the former’s private hospitals. Worse, some treat patients in government facilities yet charge illegally. Many nurses cannot even find veins for infusion. Such disappointments were rare in the past.
When the announcement came that the government was going to export nurses to Barbados, my heart jumped into my throat. I wondered about the quality of nurses that would be exported.
I wondered if the government had established a crystal screening system to filter out quality nurses for export. I worried about Barbados’ exposure to poor quality professionals.
Of course, there is always a small cohort of excellent health professionals who keep the ship afloat in Ghana, and who honour their professions by operating their professional oaths, targeting humans.
In the end, it boils down to human values, individual integrity and human passion. However, quality training can instil life-saving skills, ethics and dedication in professionals.
I just wish that my Majestic had fared differently!
The writer is a Sr Lecturer, Language and Communication Skills, Takoradi Technical University, Takoradi.