Saturday, 19 July 2014


What could they have done to prevent the crises? (Baby theft saga)- Exploring the issues from a PR perspective.
The Friday, February 14, 2014 edition of the Daily Graphic, reported that about 50 young men and women had stormed the maternity ward (ward A1), of the Komfo Anokye Hospital and had assaulted Nurses and Doctors on duty, demanding the body of a baby believed to have been still born the previous day.
The baby was allegedly still born to Madam Suwaiba Abdul Mumin, on Wednesday February 5th this year. However, the body which was supposed to have been taken to  Mortuary by the Mortuary attendant, was rather picked up by a planner/an orderly who had gone to tidy up the ward that day.
The newspaper reported that, not satisfied with the explanation given by the hospital officials, the youth of the Zongo community stormed the ward chanting slogans such as  “Ye pe yen funu”, meaning  “We want our corpse”.
It further said they beat the medical staff and vandalized tables, chairs and files of patients at the ward to a standstill.
The young men who, according to some of the security personnel of the hospital were well built and hefty, force their way to through the security post at the entrance to the ward and managed to invade the place to accomplish their mission.
The medical staff on duty had to run helter-skelter to save their lives with some of them having to take refuge under some of the beds at the ward.
It took the swift intervention the Rapid Deployment Force (R.D.F) of the Ashanti Regional Police Command t prevent the violence attack from the degenerating further.
When the Daily Graphic  got to the scene, there was heavy Police presence on the premises, with most of them station at the entrance to the Maternity block.
The commander to R.D.F, Superintendent of Police Mr. Cris Klomepah, is reported to have told the Daily Graphic that at 8:30 am they had information on the said attack and quickly mobilized to the scene.
The management  of the hospital has, however, refused to comment on the latest development.
The Chief Executive Officer of KATH, Prof. Ohene Adjei said the priority of Managements was to ensure the safety of the staff and normalize activities, adding, “we will not want to play up the issue on the media”.
According  to Ashanti Regional Police P.R.O, Assistant Supt.  Of Police (A.S.P.) Yusif Tanko, the Police were here to take statement from the Nurses on duty at the same time of the incident.
He said the hospital authorities had assured the Police that they will avail the staff to the Police to take their statements before the end of the week.
The report added  the still born which were supposed to have been sent to the Mortuary by the Mortuary attendant, was rather picked up by the cleaner who had gone to tidy up the ward on that day.
The cleaner, Baba Abeley, claimed, to have picked up the box containing  the body of the baby and two others and taken same to the incinerator for burning.
However, according to Mr. Kwame Frimpong,  Public Relation Officer of KATH, the last time the incinerator burnt was January 31 and February 1, 2014, for which reason the assertion by the cleaner could not be ascertained.
He said the assertion by the cleaner compelled  the hospital authorities to hand him over to the police.
Besides, disposal of bodies “is the work of the Mortuary man not the cleaner”.
He said the normal practice with a neotal death  at the hospital was that the body was usually wrap in plastic bag and labelled with the name of the mother and the baby’s weight and time of death  and kept at the Mortuary  for some time before “they are given mass burial”.
According to Mr. Frimpong, in most of the cases, “80% of the families, do not care about what happens to the bodies.  Once they are told their baby is dead, they don’t asked of the body”. 

Good reputation management in Public Relations is an essentially key principle to ensuring the success of every organization. Whether the organization is successful or not this is crucial with the level of competition witnessed in today’s competitive business environment. Every serious organization manages its corporate  image/reputation effectively through how it relates with both its internal (employees, stakeholders)  and external public s ( customer/consumers).

The Ghanaian Times Newspaper of Wednesday March 26th , 2014 reported that the Chief Executive Officer(CEO) of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hosptal (KATH), Kumasi  in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, Professor Ohene Adjei, has been directed to proceed on leave with immediate effect over the missing still born saga at the Hospital. The Minister of Health, Sherry Ayittey, announced this yesterday in Accra, the capital of Ghana when she briefed the media on preliminary findings and decision on the alleged missing still birth at the Hospital. The findings were taken by the Medical and Dental Council, the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the KATH. The Minister also directed that, the medical Doctor on duty at the time of the incident  as well as the Midwife, whose names are being held for security reasons are to continue to be on indefinite leave until the submission of the final report and recommendation on the matter. 

 From the news account above, it appears due process was not followed by officials of the hospital.  One cannot establish the sort of relationship between employees and management of the hospital. As a result, I cannot be in the best position to raise critical issues confronting the workers of the KATH. Let alone, give an assessment of whether there is lack of motivation, poor remuneration and condition of services, job description, frequency of meetings/interactions with management and staff, welfare issues/ promotion of staffs among other matter labour issues, and the recruitment  of employees. But whatever the case is, the issues has to be looked at holistically as an attempt  is made in analyzing the incident. 

Again, I can’t assume I know all that there is to know about the hospital as far as management practices and procedures are concerned. However, as a PR practitioner, I know one of the major and critical duty of a  PR practitioner is  to ADVISE management about things which are likely to happen and impact positively or damage an organization’s reputations.
In the KATH baby theft saga, if the hospital PRO has done his work well all this problems could have been avoided in the first place. It is always better to prevent the problem than to wait for its occurrence and control it after. 

Prudent, serious, careful and very alert PRO anticipates or envisages some kind of crises or problems to hit or strike his company in future. As a result he tries to put in place measures and mechanisms to deal with such situations whenever they occur in order to safeguard his/her organizations reputation, especially during emergency time. In the case of the KATH, I’m of the strong opinion that this careful consideration wasn’t done. The PRO’s statement captured in the paragraph 16 of the Daily Graphic issue of Friday, February 14, 2014 indicate that “the still born which was supposed to have been sent to the mortuary by the mortuary attendant was rather picked up by the cleaner who had gone to tidy up the ward that day”. Meaning, whatever the case was, someone (ie a cleaner) actually did some picking of a baby on that day.
The report further said the cleaner claimed to have picked up the box containing the body of the baby and two others and sent same to the incinerator for burning. However, according to the PRO, the last time the incinerator was used, was January 31 and February 1, 2014 for which reason the assertion of the cleaner could not be ascertain. 
Now let’s assume the cleaner’s assertion was true. That he negligently did the job of the mortuary attendant, who was not on-hand and present at that material time to take the baby’s body to the mortuary. Could we be justified to say that, there was a clear case of role conflict; between the cleaner and mortuary attendant who are both staff, trying to perform same roles when in fact they are not supposed to? This brings to the fore the issue of job description. What will influence a cleaner (worker) to set aside his job and do his co-worker’s job for him which he had not been instructed to do. If the narration of the PRO is exactly what happen, then the issue of role clarity  seriously needs to be considered under this context. It means the right people doing the  right thing at the right time.
But there must be no room to beg the question. Are dead bodies sent to the morgue or to the incinerator for burning as the cleaner alleged? The Doctor in charge also failed to communicate with his subordinate by drawing whoever was in charge to send the still born to the mortuary. 

According to the Wednesday, March 26, 2014, issue of the Ghanaian Times Newspaper, the Ministry identified procedural lapses on the part of Doctors and Midwifes of the hospital such that there was no certification on the still born by the Doctor. This findings were undertaken by the Medical and Dental Council, the Nursing and Midwife Council and the KATH.
Paragraph 17 of the newspaper report said “the other two still births of Madam Clementina Somme’s and Berniceteria were taken to the mortuary and that of Madam Suwaiba Mumuni’s was shown to her after thumb printing, the baby was wrapped with the mother’s cloth and put in a box which was placed at where still births are kept in transit to the mortuary; the Minister added that, “unfortunately this baby happens to be one of the three babies allegedly picked up by the orderly and deposited off”.
Paragraph 10 of the newspaper report said according to the Minister, dead babies should be transferred to the morgue but in the case of the still born babies, this was not done. Why? There was poor communication or the lack of it. Someone was supposed to draw another person's mind to something in order to act appropriately. Under normal circumstances, the Health Minister noted that stillborn babies were discharged to the mortuary attendant to take records but in that particular instance, there was no evidence showing that the still born was sent to the mortuary.
The Minister noted that, the still born babies should have been handed over to the mortuary attendant and registered but there was no evidence to that effect.
Before paragraph 17, the report said according to the management of the hospital, each of the still births recorded on that faithful day, followed laid down procedure in registration. Unfortunately, the bodies of the three stillbirths could not be accounted for because the orderly on duty that day allegedly took the body to the incinerator.
From the story above, due process was not followed amounting to gross procedural lapses brought about by poor communication. Even if Madam Suwaiba had authenticated document to signify that the baby was dead what about the other two mothers, whom the report suggest had their babies place in the morgue? On what grounds were they approved to be kept in that same morgue of the hospital? It appears there was some kind of laxity in the discharge of specific functions by people in charge or certain officials responsible.          
·       Lack of role clarity/ Conflicting roles among staff of the hospital
·       Poor/Breakdown in communication between doctor and subordinates (nurses, midwives, mortuary attendant) communication not well done to its logical conclusion
·       Staff adherence/ Compliance to job descriptions.

The hospital PRO could have built a major case to defend the hospital’s reputation by mainly planning well in advance to mitigate the effects of the crisis in the organization. What could he have done? He could have design a strategy to defend the image of the hospital by constructing and designing a reliable fact sheet.
It was clear from the report above that the PRO failed to express remorse about the incident on behalf of the hospital management, something which was so very important to do during such critical time. The fact sheet will allow each department of the hospital to report on its activities.
In so doing, the questionnaire designed in the form of fact sheet will help arm the PRO with sufficient information everyday about the activities of each department.
The questionnaire may include such important details as: Name Of Department, Date, Recorded births, Time Of Their Deliveries, Sex of Babies, Record of any StillBorn, Record of Death/s on Delivery,  Time of Death After Delivery, Signature of Doctor Certifying Death, Name/Signature/Thumbprint of Mother Certifying Death, Mortuary Attendant’s Name, Time of Sending Dead Body or StillBorn To Morgue.
The nature of activity in each department will determine the questioning structure set on the questionnaire. It’s the PRO’s duty to check and ask for this fact sheet or questionnaire about the previous day’s activities to keep the PRO updated about the previous day’s activities in each department.
It will be recalled that in the KATH’s case, although a  lot of babies were reported by the news papers to have been born on that day, apart from the three which became subject of controversy after they had gone missing, the PRO did not communicate this fact. Even though there were other babies delivered on that same day whom authorities duly registered, this was not the case with the three babies, including that of Ms. Suwaiba. The PRO’s comment when interviewed by the media meant that only Ms. Suwaiba certified by thumbprinting to create the impression that Ms. Suwaiba was the only woman who delivered on that day. But this was not the case.
The motive behind the fact sheet formula arms the PRO with compelling and sufficient information and evidence to make a strong case to justify the hospital’s reputation.
The fact sheet when in place could also keep officials/personnel of the hospital in check on their individual roles to avoid such needless blunders. This can save their life’s  job.
 Remember this could be you.  Be smart and take right decision to save your organisation and your job by opting for the best PUBLIC RELATION SOLUTIONS. HEED ADVISE AND DON'T BECOME LIKE THE CEO WHO LOST HIS BIG TIME JOB WHEN HE COULD HAVE WELL SAVE IT. THAT WAS INDEED A VERY BAD NEWS.


NB: Readers of the content of this blog are to note that these views do not reflect the opinions of any political party, interest group or individual. It presents an objective and a non-partisan approach in the analysis and presentation of national and international issues as they occur. It details the candid opinion of the author and blogger.

The 8th or 9th January, 2014 Edition of either the Times or Daily Graphic newspaper reported of the Ghana Education Service non-payment of some teachers salaries posted to serve in some communities in Ghana for the past three years. The report suggested that the teachers disturbed by the current trend of event were considering withdrawing their services in the areas in question.
Whatever reasons accounts for the delays in the payment of the salaries, it’s up to the leaders and their conscience.    
But is it not disheartening and disgusting hearing these kinds of stories, particularly at this stage of Ghana’s development when education has become so very critical and crucial to national development , and as the country is trying to consolidate its fledgling democracy, having emerged from an era of coup d’ etats and revolution, to presently  where it stands in the comity of nations.
There’s no denying the fact that education is the bedrock of development of every nation, and a necessary ingredient vital for propelling national development agenda. In view of this, adequate care and attention must be given to it by stakeholders to prevent its total collapse. We do not outrightly condemn leaders and their efforts at promoting quality education. However it’s the concern of many Ghanaians that appropriate measures  are put  in place to make the  system work to wholistically and adequately address concerns in that area.
In relating this to the late Dr. Kwegyir Aggrey’s famous statement on education as regards leaders attitude to it currently, without attempting to ignite any debate on gender imbalances and disparities in education,  I wonder what the problem is with our leaders on the educational front, if this is not a clear case of sabotaging the good intention and efforts of government in promoting quality education.
It’s absolutely unthinkable, to me, how someone’s salary can be hoarded for a period of three years after his/her appointment. Incredible.
 How will they feel if, these people and their children were to find themselves in similar condition? How on earth would they ever sit down totally unconcerned and oblivious to the very fact that some teachers salaries have been delayed for three years? I think it’s  nothing but insensitivity and share wickedness or a lack of fellow feeling that would make anybody behave in such a manner towards his fellow human being.         

This type of stories obviously goes along way to discredit the government in power. Is it not justifiable when polling stations record low voter turn-out during elections with this sort of behavior? People at the helm of affairs including some politicians, and political appointees alike just fail to live up to meet the expectations of the people who entrust them with power and responsibility in order to meet their collective aspirations. And at the end of the day, if majority of these people fail to turn up to vote, they(politicians) come up to blame WHO for not making the system work.
The GES seriously needs to put its house in order. There’s weak institutional monitoring mechanism to supervise and effectively monitor  and coordinate activities in the educational sector. How can some people be denied their pay when they are in the same profession?  This laxity accounts for the reason why we can hear such a story. And absolutely nothing else. So in the long run a very negative, distasteful and poisonous impression is created out there to mean or suggest that there seem not to be a headway in our educational aspirations and objectives. But this is not the case at all. Where will the development of the nation stand and what will it gain and benefit when people lose an interest in the teaching profession? What does this leave the young ones who are coming? It will obviously have dire consequences and implications for the individuals and the state at large. The economic security and leadership potential of individuals, among other things, in that state, you will agree with me, will definitely be threatened, endangered and jeopardized. Unless these leaders expect to rise up one day to find trees and stones all around running the affairs of this nation. Something I’m not even dreaming of and can’t imagine.     
You will agree with me that these stories turn to make the government of the day also very unpopular, in that they show totally lack of interest for the welfare of teachers in the country. In looking  at this issue from a PR perspective, I will first want to take it from the principle of REPUTATION MANAGEMENT.
The  GES must first of all know that as the sole institution in charge of regulating, administering and overseeing the activities of educational institutions in Ghana. It must bear in mind that it has the sole responsibility of projecting a positive image of teachers and the teaching profession in general, particularly,  at this crucial stage of national development. By so doing, teaching will be made attractive to those who want to venture into it.
Already, the teachers’ job is reeling with the perception that they work under poor condition of service and unattractive remuneration, an image and ‘a special slur’ which they themselves are struggling and fighting to repair if not reverse the trend. For which reasons a lot of people don’t want to opt for teaching as a career.

                           THE PR SOLUTION
The GES from where it operates in Accra, must consider restructuring its administrative outlook and procedure by incorporating and mainstreaming PR activities and procedures in its operations to cover the districts, municipal and metropolitan directorates of education. It is a good thing to have a PR Office in its Accra office but this is not enough.  It should cast its net wider and extend its PR activities from Accra to reach the municipal, metropolitan and district directorate of education. How can this be done?
It must impress on the Ministry of Education to enter into some form of partnership and an agreement with the Ghana Institute of Journalism(GIJ) to supply the GES with some number of PR or Communication professionals and practitioners. Depending on the nature and terms of agreement and understanding among the parties and stakeholders involved, these PR officers will be deployed to the various district and municipal directorate of education across the nation. The mode of posting these officers to the district, metropolitan and municipal assemblies may follow the pattern of the National Service Scheme(NSS) only that it will be different in administration as compared to that of the NSS.
As part of their PR duties, these PR Officers will advise and offer counsel to the management of such directorates or authorities there as practitioners about their normal work. They may offer good advise mainly on matters dealing with how to relate with their external publics(including teachers) on issues pertaining to conflict prevention and reduction and management as pertained to sectoral/labour front  as well as labour disputes settlement.
So that when issues about the non-payment of teachers salaries or any other matters which affect the welfare of teachers comes up or before they do, these PR officers at the district and municipal assemblies may raise a red flag about development on the ground by first coordinating, notifying or communicating with its PR Office in Accra well in advance. Or to hint the Accra offices of a looming/possible protest or agitation by teachers, on how to confront or address the situation internally from a PR perspective before it spills over into the media.
In other instances, they may not necessarily have to contact the Accra Office to deal with any matter, if there’s a workable plan or existing framework approved by the Head in Accra already laid down to resolve such outstanding matters.
For example, in addressing the problem of non-payment of salaries due teachers, the PR Office of the GES can develop or design a PAYMENT CLEARANCE FORM which can be signed monthly by all teachers after the collection and payment of their salaries at the district, municipal and metropolitan directorate of education. This forms can be placed at the banks where they go to claim their cash and they are made to sign the form after withdrawing their money. The process calls for some collaboration between the GES and the banks where the teachers take their salaries from. By so doing,  they are able to keep track of those receiving monthly salaries and those who are not. And the issues which may arise on the non-payment of salaries due teachers can be dealt with right there before it gets over into  the media.  This process can be well planned and coordinated efficiently by those parties involved.        
When the issues are well controlled and managed from the top(GES Head Office) to the bottom(District Offices), without allowing it to get into the media, I’m of the strong believe and sound opinion that, it will help maintain, protect and even enhanced the good image of the Service at that level, the teaching profession as well as the teachers themselves. This will also check the public from forming any generalized negative opinion about the profession, when the issues can be prevented from getting to the Press in the initial stages. Good reputation is therefore managed right there when this practice is sustained for a long period of time.
It’s then that the teaching profession can continue to become attractive to people. This will also save the government from being discredited and unpopular. It will serve the government great interest. If the sector enjoys good reputation, and give some meaning and credence to its much touted mantra of promoting the teachers’profession and commitment towards providing quality education. So when teachers are posted to serve they will not feel reluctant to refuse accepting postings to communities, especially rural areas on unfounded bases. So much work still remains to be done in terms of reputation management and redeeming the sunken image of the teaching profession. Reputation management is very essential and therefore key in the fight towards redeeming the image crisis characterizing  the profession. A word to a wise is enough.