|Choitram Memorial Hospital|
Early yesterday morning we received news of the untimely death of Rtd. Lieutenant Colonel Tom Nyuma former Secretary of State for the Eastern Region of Sierra Leone and Undersecretary of State for Defence, after a long period of declining health. Barely some hours after the announcement of his demise, we started receiving "WhatsApp" pictures of the body of the former battlefield commander probably taken with a cellphone camera right inside the hospital room at Choitram Memorial Hospital where he passed away at 4.30 a.m local time.
By the end of yesterday, this horrible picture was all over social media including Facebook, Google+, and electronic mail, you name it.
Many conscientious Sierra Leoneans both at home and in the diaspora were particularly miffed at such a blatant violation of all the tenets of patients rights.Why would a hospital like Choitram which is fast making a name for itself as one of the best hospitals in the country allow such wanton disregard for the memory of an individual who had played such a major role to defend the country from the insanity of depraved RUF rebels who had had no respect for human life and dignity. A man that had risked his life on hundreds of occasions to confront rebels in the jungle, when he could have been sitting comfortably as a minister in Freetown, reading about the war through reports.
|Late Tom Nyuma|
Even if the individual involved had not been such a notable person as Tom Nyuma, every patient regardless of their social or economic status, has the right to privacy, confidentiality, respect, freedom from harm, and dignity, among other rights. These rights are sacrosanct and should be the foundation of any modern medical practice. For you to allow an individual with a cellphone into a health care situation, particularly when the patient is at your mercy or is incapacitated, is not only crude and uncivil, but is a violation of of both the ethical and legal codes of the medical practice.
Those in the management of Choitram Hospital ought to know better. Even if you locate a hospital in the midst of the darkest jungle in Sierra Leone, the rights of patients are sacrosanct and inviolable.
The behavior of the staff of that hospital is symptomatic of all the problems that ail us as a country. Until Sierra Leoneans start to respect the basic underpinnings of decent societies, we would always continue to wallow at the bottom of every conceivable list of human development.
I sincerely hope that the management of Choitram would investigate this travesty and sanction the culprits, as a society in which there is no respect for the vulnerable, is a society that has no moral foundation.