Tributes mourning the death of Prof Jacob Plange-Rhule, Rector of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, are urging hard lessons from his passing.
Considered a colossus in medical practice both in Ghana and abroad, Prof Plange-Rhule’s death at the University of Ghana Medical Centre, in Accra Friday morning from suspected coronavirus (Covid-19) disease, shocked the entire nation, particularly the health community.
There has been no official confirmation of cause of death, safe for media suggestions.
But his colleagues are urging the nation to pick serious lessons from his loss, being the thorough person that he was, and obey the simple hygiene protocols and lockdown measures if we are not to be overwhelmed by the pandemic.
“In all this, all of us as doctors will have to galvanise our efforts and ensure that we rally around this national call and use Professor Plange-Rhule as a reference point to ensure that we save as many souls as possible. This is a fight that he would always want to lead. It’s unfortunate he has to succumb, but we are going to rally around and ensure that systemic challenges will have to be addressed, all the professionals, we are going to commit ourselves and ensure that we defeat this pandemic”, said Dr. Justice Yankson, secretary of the Ghana Medical Association.
Dr Yankson, who spoke on Joy News, said even more important, the general public must pick the obvious lessons.
“The general public out there, with all due respects, we will plead with them, we have seen doctors succumb, and we are talking about a colossus as far as medical practice is concerned in this our region, not just Ghana, West Africa, everywhere you go. You go to the West Africa College of Physicians and Surgeons and you will see his mark there. This is somebody that ideally, we should not be losing at this point.
“So, Ghanaians should pick a cue from what has happened and ensure that they obey the simple rules that the State and the health authorities are trying to put in place to ensure that we are all safe. It is not an easy thing and we all have to remember that the disease is here with us and this is a reality that has come to all of us.”
Another professional, Dr. Abdanllah Hadi Mohammed of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, a neurosurgeon called Prof Plange-Rhule a “father”, “the best he ever met” and a “never angry” person, and who so inspired him at the outset of his career that he determined to be like him.
Unable to confirm if Prof Plange-Rhule indeed succumbed to the Covid-19 disease, he said he would prefer an official confirmation.
However, he had seen some media reports that suggested the coronavirus disease was responsible, “… and that really sent shivers down our spine. It will be, it will be even worse off if that is what he succumbed to, a disease that we are all trying to fight. He couldn’t have gone now because this is when the country really, really needs him looking at the knowledge that he’s got.
“His knowledge cuts across, it is not just renal medicine or physiology, it cuts across. And his experience is really needed now, and it will really be sad if he actually succumbed to this virus and probably if that is true, I will urge all doctors to fight and get to the end of this disease and make sure that… this should catapult us into making sure that no Ghanaian dies from this virus again,” he also told Joy FM.
The near-64-year-old Professor Jacob Plange-Rhule is survived by his wife, Dr Mrs Gyikua Plange-Rhule, also a health professional, and three daughters.