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Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Telling a Story He Can't Tell: 3


Sam’s dad died of heart failure caused by hypertension. Hypertension has been responsible for numerous deaths Sam’s country yet not enough advocacies have been made on the dangers of this deadly disease. Public health education in Sam’s country is zero and spongy. Health facilities are deficient. Sam’s dad had hypertension that was classified among the primary or essential hypertension, accounting for about 90-95% cases with no obvious medical cause. This is what the medical practitioners always tell the public. His dad’s hypertension was caused by excessive stress. Ever since his dad retired from public service, where he served for 30 years, his pensions were paid once in a blue moon. It’s a truism that when you retire from public service in Sam’s country it takes eternity before you receive your pension. Sam grew up knowing a pension system where pensioners lived in abject poverty waiting for their pensions to be paid and they died without getting paid; where there was high incidence of “ghost pensioners”- people impersonating in connivance with the government officials to receive benefits meant for others; where people falsified their age and remained younger year-on-year because they were afraid of retiring and facing poverty; where government regard pensioners as old woods; where a lot things went the wrong way and people saw nothing wrong with the system. Now Sam is a grown man, he still see a pension scheme where pensioners are compelled to give out hand out to government officials to facilitate payment of their benefits; where pensioners are ridiculed in the name of accreditation- pensioners who are frail and poor in health are forced into an exercise where they are exposed to physical dangers and some die queuing up for accreditation; where it still takes eternity before pensions are paid; where “ghost pensioners” have increased in numbers and have their tactics refined; where top government officials in the pension commission siphon pension funds for personal aggrandizement while pensioners wait for “never will come” benefits; where everything about the pension scheme is messy and squishy and people see no cause for alarm. Not even the 2004 pension reform act has changed anything!

All Sam sees is a new wine in an old bottle; a better opportunity for government officials and pension administrators to steal in a way they didn’t know before; an enhanced way for government officials and their cohorts to perfect their dodgy acts to be in tune with the 21 century stealing spree.

Sam’s dad fell seriously ill on the brink when his pension was not coming forth. His dad was a strong and hard working man; people who came across him attested to his zealousness and resilience. He refused to die when death called. He was stressed all his life; everybody’s problems were his problems. He believed so much in their country, this was evident in his 30 years of selfless service to the country as a public servant; he retired with nothing to his name except his only bank account which was always in the red.

But the country he showed much honesty and allegiance failed him when he needed her most. If only his pensions were paid he wouldn’t have died, at least there would have been money to send him to the hospital as often as his health condition demanded; if only his pensions were paid there would have been money to purchase his drugs and provide him with basic necessities he needed to live longer; if only his pensions were paid the doctors wouldn’t have kicked him out of the hospital for not paying hospital bills, at least he would have died in a hospital receiving treatment and not at home in a bug-inflicted bed; if only the health care system was not moribund he wouldn’t have suffered such an agony in receiving treatments; if only the medical system was not porous and there were no quacks he wouldn’t have taken fake drugs sold in numerous pharmacy shops in the streets, at least those shops wouldn’t have been in existence; if only the government was purposeful and sustainable everything would have been working fine. All these were running through Sam’s mind swiftly as he sat beside his dad’s grave and ruminate over his death. All his dad’s friends developed similar sickness and died similarly. Sam lives every day in great awe of what the future holds for the pensioners! 

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