Choitram Memorial Hospital Reacts to Public Outrage

Tom Nyuma
Choitram Memorial Hospital in Freetown Sierra Leone, which incurred the wrath of many in the Sierra Leone community at home and abroad last week when postmortem photos of former military strongman Tom Nyuma who passed away at the hospital surfaced on social media, seemingly taken moments after the war hero's demise, has reacted to the outrage by handing over some employees suspected of engaging in the nefarious act to the Criminal Investigations Department in the country's capital.

When some conscientious Sierra Leoneans started to object over such wanton disregard of a patient's right by employees of the hospital, a few individuals in the Sierra Leone community, those who see everything through the prism of politics and others who were unfortunately just plain ignorant about patients rights, starting stating that those who were objecting to the outrageous act were just trying to make a big deal out of nothing. Even one cyber opinion leader resident in Norway said that people were just making much ado about nothing. Afterwards, he said, there were more important things to focus on in Sierra Leone. Fortunately the majority did not share the basis of his totally incongruous outburst.

Some others were of the opinion that during the war, dead people were strewn all over the streets of Sierra Leone, being photographed, and people did not raise such an outcry. Unfortunately what these people fail to realize is that the streets of Freetown during the war is not the same as a hospital ward where people and pay for treatment, and such an analogy lacked any sensible foundation.

The truth of the matter is that with the proliferation of social media, there are people who just want to join every conversation on the sole basis of commonsense and nothing else.

A hospital is a place where people who need medical care go and put their lives and their privacy in the hands of total strangers. Every hospital in the world, even if it is located in the furthest outpost in the most primitive country on earth has a sacred duty to provide the best standards of care, which includes not only the provision of direct medical services, but a pledge to uphold the dignity and privacy of the patients in their care even after death. Now, nobody is accusing the management of Choitram of complicity in the nefarious acts of some unenlightened few, but as the management of a health care institution, there are certain ethical standards that you should ensure that all employees under your care maintain. If an employee violates these ethical codes, the employee is accountable for his/her behavior, but the ultimate responsibility for the act  resides with the hospital management.

Over the past few years, Choitram has made a name for itself as the prime provider of modern medical services in Sierra leone and has therefore become the hospital of first choice for the affluent and those who expect high standards of care, especially those in the expatriate community, international students, tourists, and even the health conscious common citizenry. Therefore, such a wanton disregard for patients privacy, as manifested by the violation of the privacy of the deceased hero, was a serious dent in the reputation of this rising medical provider, which is trying hard to have a stellar reputation in the sub-region. It is very therefore appropriate that they are taking cogent steps to let their employees know that such ethical violations are totally unacceptable.
Harish Agnani
Hospital Mamagement

The rights of people, especially patients, all over the world are the same. The people of Sierra Leone must not settle for less. We know our country is hard, with most people struggling to barely make ends meet. But there is no price for dignity, and the dignity of a poor man, an African, an Indian an a European, must all be of equal value.

The latest development is that no criminal charges are pending against the employees as their action was not a criminal matter. But the matter has been sent to the relevant health care board in the country to see if there was any violation of the codes of health care conduct. A press realease by Choitram hospital strongly condemned the action of the staff that were involved in the mischief


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