The main pillars of acceptable journalistic practice are to educate, inform and entertain. Lies, vilification and conjectures have no place in real ethical journalism. But strangely, some practitioners of this noble profession, for obvious selfish reasons, do abandon ethics of the profession, sell their consciences and engage in wicked acts of character assassination. Such character assassins often go after innocent people who refuse to capitulate to their naked acts of extortion and objectionable blackmailing antics.
Neutrality against impartiality
To be neutral, is to be objective and fair in one’s analysis of issues and judgments on matters. Often-times, media practitioners have applied this principle of neutrality, either erroneously or completely misconstrued the real context in which it has to be used. Some media practitioners often claim to be neutral when in actual fact, the real objective of what they do is heavily laden with hate, malice and avarice.
Neutrality therefore is completely different from impartiality. When an individual’s actions are motivated by sincerity which is completely devoid of malice and subtle biasness, then, the person can be said to be neutral. So, if a journalist makes it an agenda to go after an individual and relentlessly attack his/her person for no just cause, then, such an agenda becomes evil and therefore have absolutely nothing to do with neutrality.
Impartiality, on the other-hand, does not mean one cannot be critical but the criticism must be fair, based on empirical facts, devoid of malice and with clear intension/objective to advancing public good. A journalist who claim to be neutral but whatever he does in his course of duty is heavily dictated by hatred and malice with an expressed-purpose of advancing the cause of his/her benefactor[s],then he/she is rather neutral but definitely not impartial.
Real work of impartiality that seeks to open the debate and properly educate Ghanaians about the need to know the state of health of prospective presidential office seekers, would have covered all those currently in the race and not targeted at just an individual; and this is where the real intension behind such publications by Africawatch cannot pass the IMPARTIALITY TEST.
The First Episode
I took my time to analyze the so-called medical records of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, as published by Africawatch magazine in its September, 2016 edition, in my capacity as a professional Medical Radiography Technician, and here are my observations/conclusions:
1. "He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in June 2013 with an abnormally high Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) count of 89.9 when, according to his British doctors, his normal “upper limit” of PSA should have been 3.72, a whole 86.18 points in the danger zone".
i. A PSA count as high as 89.9 would have resulted in a full-blown aggressive cancer which would have then spread to other vital organs of the body, in what is known in medical terminology as "metastasis”, and totally incapacitated the victim.
2. "A chest X-ray taken on January 14, 2014 showed him to have acute kidney injury, which kidney experts say is a serious condition that can leave sufferers in considerable pain".
i. Kidneys are not located in the thorax [chest]; they are located in the abdomen so when you want to take a radiograph of the kidneys, it is rather the abdomen which becomes the focal point.
ii. Kidneys are soft tissue organs, unlike bones which are easily visible in ordinary radiographic imaging.
iii. To examine the function of the kidneys by means of radiographic imaging, special dyes are intravenously administered after which images are taken at specified periods to demonstrate how the kidneys are getting rid[secretion] of the dye.
3. "And an examination on January 29, 2014 indicated that the NPP presidential candidate’s “heart is enlarged and there is quite marked coronary artery calcification"
i. The coronary artery supplies oxygenated blood to the heart. And when they describe something as "calcified", it simply means it has become hardened.
ii. So a hardened coronary artery, as far back as 2014, would have long resulted in asphyxiated-related cardiac accident by now.
But for Nana Addo to be moving about briskly on campaign tours across the country, and often speaking on platforms as late as 3am, is an indication that these diagnosis about his health status are nothing but 'Kweku Ananse' stories which are completely alien in the field of medicine, and must fittingly be thrown into the trash-can with alacritous alacrity.
The Second Episode
In its latest edition for the month of October, 2016, the Africawatch magazine, again, dedicated substantial volume of pages to responding to holes Nana Addo punched in earlier groundless claims made about his health. It is stated in the third paragraph of this latest publication that “From Akufo-Addo medical records that we obtained, it is obvious that he has an acute kidney injury as well as an enlarged heart”.
Acute and chronic conditions
Now, the operative word here is “ACUTE”; and this is used in describing a condition which occurs suddenly, with grievous debilitating effect. Such conditions often incapacitated the sufferers who then require either emergency or intensive care. On the other-hand, when a condition is described as CHRONIC, then the sufferers often must have had it over a long period and therefore managing it with medication.
But as we speak, Nana Addo is briskly traversing the length and breadth of Ghana, selling his message of hope and educating Ghanaians how they deserve a better leadership than what they are currently having.at no point has he exhibited any sign of distress which are related to kidney malefaction.
Firstly, the kidney is a soft tissue internal organ; and in the field of medical terminology, an injury is said to have occurred when there is a heavy sudden impact to the anatomical region of the body where the said organ is located, as a result of accident. But to the knowledge of all Ghanaians, Nana Addo has not been involved in any accident which would have resulted in injury to the kidney.
Secondly, kidneys come in pairs but the Africawatch report failed to indicate whether the injury is to the left or right kidney. Furthermore, the report should have indicated if the so-called kidney injury was bi-lateral, which means both organs being affected. This therefore makes the said medical records Africawatch claim to have obtained, completely fictitious.
Thirdly, function of kidneys is extraction of impurities/toxins from the blood and passing it as urine so when a person’s kidneys are so damaged as being claimed by Africawatch, he/she cannot take in water and other fluids since this increases water content of the body and therefore hormones are sent to the kidneys to get rid of this excess fluids/water. But when the kidneys are non-functional, these fluids are retained in the blood which then enter the body tissues and causes a condition called oedema.
This Odematous condition is what results in swelling of the feet, face etc. The person’s eating habits will also be strictly regulated and be made not to eat so many things. But I travel with Nana Addo on most of his campaign trips; he always eats with us at the same dining table and he eats anything that is served to us. He also takes water regularly and this definitely does not portray the typical behavior of someone with a so-called “acute kidney injury”.
And most importantly, a highly specialized health facility as one being named as where Nana Addo goes for treatment, conditions affecting the kidneys would have been coined in the proper medical jargon as “RENAL CONDITION”, affecting either one or both[bilateral] kidneys. No medical practitioner, worth his/her salt, and practicing at this high level of the profession, will say “acute kidney injury” and leave it hanging, without stating the cause, extent of this so-called injury, the period over which it has existed and medication being administered.
Furthermore, considering the location of kidneys in the human body, which is the intra-posterior abdominal wall, a person with a condition of “kidney injury” [ACUTE RENAL LEISON] will be in constant severe pain and this will result in him not being able to actually stand straight on his feet. But as we have all been witnesses to; Nana Addo goes on campaign tours and he is on his feet, for hours, and through massive crowds, when those of us claiming to be relatively youthful, are completely exhausted.
As an Aide to Nana Addo, I do travel with him on campaign tours across the country, and he drinks and eats anything as and when he feels. Nana Addo is not restricted, in anyway, about the quantity of water he takes, as would have been in the case of a person with serious kidney malfunction, since the secretion process would be serious impaired, overloaded, overtasked and therefore posed serious health risk.
Also in the third paragraph, is the assertion that Nana Addo has an “enlarged heart”. Technically, the heart is the engine of the human-body, it is the powerhouse where de-oxygenated blood is collected through the network of veins, oxygenated and then pumped every part of the body through the network of arteries. An enlarged heart will therefore result in the weakening of the cardiac muscles and therefore not be efficient in performing this arduous task.
This condition will therefore result in the patient being restricted in his physical activities because intense physical activities requires more amount of oxygen to execute, which in turn will exert enormous pressure on the heart. And here too, no further details were provided as to the cause of this s-called enlargement. Here too, it is pretty obvious that claims being made by Africawatch do not support the level of daily activities of Nana Addo, and therefore are totally groundless. Indeed, had Nana Addo been suffering from the so-called “enlarged heart” the magazine is claiming, there is absolutely no way he would have had the capacity to withstand both the rigors and long hours of campaign schedule he has been undertaking.
The editor of Africawatch also recounted his close association with Nana Addo, and how he has made financial contributions towards NPP campaign efforts in the past. That is a good move, but, as humans, our preferences, desires and interests do change over time, due to all kinds of reasons and external influences. And here, I will not be in the position to put my finger on exactly what must have necessitated the split between Nana Addo and the editor. However, if the said split was indeed amicable and not occasioned by any rancor,then,it really beats my imagination as to why this sudden blitz of attacks on the Nana Addo’s person.
Playing hide and seek
Here the editor engaged in conjecture overdrive about Nana Addo “sneaking” out of Ghana for a medical check-up in Britain; and this is where it becomes evidently clear that the former’s claim of neutrality is extremely questionable, because, the sitting-president, John Mahama, equally goes for routine medical checks and for the sake of “neutrality”, why are we not being provided with information on that, since cost of that is actually catered for by Ghanaian taxpayers? Or is the editor telling us that the sitting-president is super-human who never falls sick or does not have a medical condition which demands periodic attention?
President Atta-Mills’ example
The publication stated that “Akufo-Addo cancer story is extremely important and necessary to enable an open national discourse regarding the personal health of anyone running for such an important and powerful office as the presidency of Ghana.
“The country has been through this before, when President John Atta Mills was impaired by serious illness while in office, and how that was kept secret until his sudden death while still in power, leaving the country in a very vulnerable state during the transition period”.
Now, how can open discussion be centered on only one of many contestants for the office, if the motive is not malicious? Again, President Atta-Mills’ health concerns were kept from Ghanaian taxpayers who were paying for the bills,eventhough signs/symptoms of rapid degeneration of his health were so clearly written all over him. It actually got to a point where the man was kept from public view by his handlers but they still insisted he was fit to carry on with the race.
A person who was described as fit as a fiddle, unceremoniously dropped dead behind his desk at the seat of government, and as we speak, questions surrounding his mysterious demise still remain unanswered. This mystery is what I believe must be our immediate concern in unravelling, in order to put right measures in place to prevent a future occurrence. But rather strangely, such critical questions have rather been left to fallow, while Nana Addo who is busily traversing the nook-and-cranny of Ghana, peaching his message of GOOD HOPE, has rather become a target of groundless smear campaign.
The first publication which has turned out to be full of what is will fittingly term as a bundle of unfounded medical hieracies, was focused on the person of Nana Addo. But rather unethically, the latest response by Africawatch has drawn Nana Addo’s junior brother, Edward ‘Bumpty’ Akufo-Addo, into the fray. Meanwhile, in the thinking of the editor of the Magazine, Nana Addo is seeking political office and therefore can be subjected to public scrutiny.
So, going by the logic of Africawatch, what is the moral justification in drawing ‘Bumpty’, apolitical private citizen into this whole bottomless pit of groundless vilification episodes?
Deliberately contorted image
The picture of Nana Addo which accompanied the first story about his alleged medical records, published front cover of September,2016 edition of the magazine, according to my checks, does not exist, in the nature it was portrayed, since at no time, has the skin coloration of the man’s face ever been spotted with black pigmentation. The said picture was therefore deliberately contorted, color-wise, just to fit into that equally contorted story with an expressed-purpose of unwarrantedly exposing Nana Addo to public ridicule.
A journalist who purports to be “neutral” has the responsibility to, at all times, present issues dispassionately, and rather leave the decision with his readers to make. And as I have stated above, a serious journalist must be able to differentiate neutrality from impartiality. Neutrality will make you fixated on a particular person’s health status, and totally forget about that of his competitors in the same race. On the other-hand, impartiality will make you focus on the health statuses of all competitors in a given competition, completely devoid of malice, with the sole motive of public good in service to God and humanity.
Signs and symptoms
In medical diagnosis and healthcare delivery, a patient who walks into a health facility is first assessed, medical history taken and vital signs/symptoms taken. During this stage of healthcare delivery, the doctor or an allied healthcare officer will be able to build a good picture as to what might the condition be. When this assessment has been completed, then, what is known as “signs and symptoms” can be established. These signs and symptoms simply give good indication of what exactly the underlying causes of the patient’s condition might be.
So for example, someone with a condition of “acute kidney injury”, will surely not be able to walk unaided, will not be able to sit or stand upright and will show visibly oedematous face and limbs. This patient will not be able to eat properly, drink properly and will have serious difficulty getting rid of toxins from the blood through urination.
But as Aide to Nana Addo, I have the opportunity to always be close to him; and with my background as a medical Radiography Technician, the man eats anything, drinks water at all times, executes his daily campaign and other tight schedules without a hitch; and shows absolutely not a single sign/symptom of “acute kidney injury”. The man is able to stand on his feet for hours acknowledging cheers on campaign tours, and this is medically at variance with capability of someone with a condition of “acute kidney injury”.
Similarly, what is being speculated by Africawatch as “enlarged heart” and “prostate cancer” simply cannot be grounded in medical diagnosis since there are no signs and symptoms being exhibited by Nana Addo. So to bring this whole issue down to the level of ordinary people with no knowledge in the field of medical diagnostics; I will say: Africawatch is claiming Nana Addo is suffering from “Acute Malaria”, rather but strangely, he is going about his normal duties without exhibiting a rise in body temperature, he is not having headaches, he is not having loss of appetite, he is not having general body pains etc., which are basic signs/symptoms of the disease.
The publication therefore cannot be grounded in medical diagnosis. Asuch, it is nothing but a caboodle of dream-up conjectures with an expressed purpose of creating public disaffection for Nana Addo, and must fittingly be treated with utmost contemptuously contemptuous contempt.
Justice Abeeku Newton-Offei
[A Medical Radiology Technician]
Aide to Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo
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