Frimpong-Boateng Hits Back

Almost a fortnight after his controversial dismissal from the National Cardio-Thoracic Centre (NCTC), Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng has explained that the embarrassment the issue drew could have been avoided had someone called him for a little chat. He observed that the dismissal letter had caused embarrassment not to him only but the whole country. This was contained in the most detailed statement in the aftermath of the controversial dismissal. “I want to say a few words about the dismissal letter from the Hon. Minister of Health who has never visited the Cardiothoracic Centre before. If only someone had called me for a little chat, we would have spared all the embarrassment not only to me but also to the Minister and Ghana as a whole,” he stated. The minister was ill-advised, he said, adding that those who drafted the letter for his (minister) signature should be watched because they could do it again. He took issues with the letter which he observed did not make sense, given the fact it was absurd to terminate an un-remunerated honorary appointment. “Essentially, the letter says my appointment as Honorary-Director has been terminated with immediate effect. The question is how do you even terminate an unremunerated honorary appointment?” he asked. He questioned why he was not thanked for setting up the NCTC against what he described as near insurmountable odds. Turning to the press statement issued by government in the aftermath of the confusion generated by the dismissal, he punched holes in it as he discounted the impression that he sought to stay on at post indefinitely. He repeated the point about his age when he stated that he was 61 and not the 62 put out in the public domain. “I am not over 62 as the Government statement wanted the world to know. I am sixty one (61) and strong, by God’s grace. I am not the person who wants to overstay his welcome,” he pointed out. He recalled how some 11 years ago, when faced with the machinations of some detractors at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, he had cause to meet then Vice President Mills to present his resignation letter but was dissuaded from doing so. “At the time I wanted to tender my resignation to President Rawlings, Dr. Mrs. Mary Grant accompanied me to the Castle. The President had travelled so I was ushered in to see Vice President J.E.A Mills. I believe that His Excellency President Mills will recall the conversation that we had”. He said that after listening to him, then Vice President Mills said, “Doctor you came to Ghana to help the people of this country. You are not here because of a few detractors. In God’s name please go back and do your work”. The kind words of the then Vice President, he said, “encouraged me and I was very thankful and went back to the Cardiothoracic Centre. I was all the more determined to work hard and also train the next generation of heart surgeons. It is therefore wrong for anyone to suggest that I am afraid to go on retirement and link the ‘dismissal’ letter to my age.” He catalogued the journey which led to the final establishment of the NCTC and paid tribute to former presidents J.J. Rawlings and Kufuor over their contribution towards as a centre of medical excellence. He particularly recalled Mr. Rawlings’ demand that the centre remain independent of the Korle Bu system as he took on the manouvres of some faceless persons at the facility who sought to reverse the status quo. Exposing the worrying developments at Korle Bu, he pointed out that how a certain pediatric cardiologist returned home hoping to work at the centre. The Ministry of Health, he recalled, asked that she be interviewed by the hospital. After it was done, she was disappointed when she was told she could not work at the centre safe the Children’s Ward. She returned to the UK in disappointment, he recollected. In spite of the crude treatment meted out to him, Prof Frimpong-Boateng asked Ghanaians in the Diaspora not to be discouraged from coming home to serve. “I also recommend that the independence and autonomy of the other Centres of Excellence namely: Reconstructive and Plastic Surgery, Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine, and the Institute for Clinical Genetics should be restored and guaranteed,” he said. He concluded philosophically, “Great Institutions are difficult to build, easy to destroy and impossible to restore.”