Ode to a noble doctor

In a country hemorrhaging trained doctors to the West, Dr. Anthony George Laing’s dedication to the Ghanaian medical field makes him a national hero. After years of training in England as a Plastic Surgeon, in 1993, Dr. Laing returned to his native Ghana to become a pioneer in reconstructive surgery.

Nineteen years later, he should be well into his retirement, but due to the acute shortage of specialists in Ghana, this 72 year old man attends to about fifty patients twice a week at the Surgery and Burns centre at the Korle-Bu teaching hospital. What is particularly commendable about Dr. Laing’s dedication is he provides this specialized surgery despite not receiving a regular salary from the government of Ghana. In an interview with Joy FM, he intimated that for the last 9 months, he has worked without a salary. Unfortunately, this is a recurring pattern in Ghana where medical practitioners are not offered competitive income and they sometimes have to go on strike before they are awarded overdue wages. Inspite of the innumerable frustrations of working in Ghana, Dr. Laing remains committed to his patients. He is one of the eight plastic surgeons available to treat a population of 25 million – an alarming ratio that points to the acute brain drain that plagues Ghana’s medical field. 

Every year, Ghana produces some of the sharpest minds in medicine, but faced with poor wages and inadequate working resources, a significant proportion of trained nurses and doctors leave the country to work abroad. Had Dr. Laing stayed in England, he would have earned a handsome salary and a slew of perks that would have given him a very comfortable life. Yet, he made the magnanimous decision to return to his home country to save lives and train a new generation of doctors. For that, we owe him 9 months of overdue wages and an immeasurable debt of gratitude. For more on this story go to: http://edition.myjoyonline.com/pages/news/201210/95063.php

Photo credit: www.myjoyonline.com

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