Ghana needs human organ transplant policy – Dr Banyubala
Dr. Divine N. Banyubala, the Deputy Registrar of the Ghana Medical and Dental Council, has called for adequate legal and professional frameworks to govern the donation and transplantation of organs of deceased persons.
Additionally, he said, there should be a transparent regulatory oversight system to back the regime.
He explained: “Our beloved country is currently experiencing human organ retention problems. Organ retrieval and retention of human bio-materials in Ghana is not routinely undertaken in-compliance with the existing legislation, which required that retention be carried out only with the consent of the family of the deceased”.
The legislation, he said, must reflect the social norms and values of the community as well as the wishes of the deceased persons and their families to encourage more people to donate their organs when they were dead.
Respecting and recognition of such cultural rights, customary and family value terms would be a better policy option as it would produce trust and support of the people.
This was contained in a paper titled: “Of Saints, Dead Interest and a Public Policy of Conscription of Deceased Organ for Transplantation – Some Reflections”, delivered on his behalf at the opening of the 2nd University of Cape Coast (UCC) Faculty of Arts Colloquium, in Cape Coast.
The three-day colloquium on the theme: “The Humanities and Indigenous Knowledge in Health” is a biennial event that creates a platform for researchers in the humanities at UCC and other institutions to disseminate research findings on selected themes to inform policy briefs.
Dr Banyubala said though test transplants involving the living of related donors were being conducted in the country after it was piloted in 2008 at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, the acts were being conducted in the absence of any legislation on human organ donation and transplantation.
He noted that over the years, human organ donation and transplantation had become the preferred treatment option to end organ failure in many parts of the world and had relieved and improved the quality of life for many patients.
He said people were likely to embrace transplantation and organ donation if they recognised and understood through education that it was one way through which social values could be renegotiated after one’s death.
Dr. Banyubala claimed that indigenous knowledge, when sensitively and open mindedly explored, may illumine key health sector policies such as organ and tissue donation for transplantation and science research.
Citing an example from the Kokomba Traditional setting, Dr. Banyubala said being an ancestor was a reputational issue of enormous cultural significance and that families were pleased at the custom not to interfere with such rights, the violations of which carry consequences on the involved party.
The Vice Chancellor of UCC, Professor Domwini Dabire Kuupole said the socio-cultural practices that existed could not be ruled out in health care delivery system and challenged academicians to research and find ways of how that aspect could be effectively explored.
The Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Prof. Dora Edu-Buandoh, said there was the need for stakeholders in the health sector to work together to bridge the communication gap that existed in health care delivery.
She said it was for such reason that the Faculty had created the platform for issues of national and international interest in indigenous and orthodox health care to be discussed.
The Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, Prof. Francis Eric Amoquandoh , said the inclusion of herbal medicine in the health care delivery chain was key and called on the current generation to revitalise it to supplement orthodox medicines.