How long can a patient stay in ICU? By Kiflu Hussain By;Kiflu Hussain
One of the protagonists portrayed as a pathologist in Arthur Hailey’s book titled “The Final Diagnosis”observed that “the remarkable thing about the human body is not what kills us but what we can have wrong inside us and still go on living.”Accordingly,a person may live normally while carrying a cause that’s harmful to health for a long time before succumbing to any form of illness.I even heard real medical practitioners talk about insidious cancer in real life.And so I have a fair idea as to how a person after being admitted as a patient can stay in ICU/Intensive Care Unit/for quite some time.Yet,that’s an exception rather than a rule.In most cases,either the condition of the patient improves or deteriorates whereby s/he gets discharged from the hospital to resume normal life or the mortal remain gets relegated to the morgue and eventually burial.Now that’s in a human bieng over which I have neither the intention nor the capacity to dwell upon.
However,since this analogy has been applied to African nations by the East African Newspaper/February 6-12,2012/ to assess how these mostly hapless nations are faring,I decided to indulge in some philosophical reflections.As has become the custom of the newspaper to evaluate the performance of African governments for the second time this year,it applied a variety of measures.Thus,it took into consideration the Mo Ibrahim Index of African governance,the Democracy Index,Freedom House’s Press Freedom Index,Transparency International’s Corruption Index and the United Nations Human Development Index.Then EA developed a Nation Media Group Index “to complement the others”the paper chose.Consequently,it based its final score for the political leaders through the average score of all these indices.What piqued my interest is the way these African “leaders”were assigned letter grades on the basis of their 0-100 score derived from the six indices.To the best, A+ and A is given which sadly are few.To the mediocres, C is given which is not only acceptable in the African context.It can be viewed as satisfactory in the developed world too. George W Bush at one time made a speech at a graduation ceremony by telling undergraduates that he was a C student which didn’t prevent him from assuming the highest of the highest office on this planet.So he told the American youth not to let their spirit dampen for being a C student.In my own student days,we used to assign D jokingly for dunce and F for flat or failure.Unfortunately,EA went beyond the normal grading we were accustomed to.After recording the dismal performance of these strongmen of Africa on different score cards,EA had shown us how some are hopeless beyond any redemption.Some are even unable to maintain earlier position despite clinging to power for eternity.Rulers like Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal,King Mohammed VI of Morocco,Alassane Ouattara of Cote d’Ivoire,Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi,his Majesty of Swaziland etc have not only declined but plummeted in their performance as “leaders.”Personally,I find this to be “ progress” commensurate with the law of nature.As a human being cannot remain a child once after s/he’s born but rather matures,then grow old and dies,no living thing can remain static.Moving forward or sliding backward is part of the inexorable law of nature.Before I proceed to what I find uncomfortable to accept,though,I’ve to congratulate the people of my host country,Uganda.EA broke the good news that the government of Uganda presided by Yoweri Kaguta Museveni recovered from ICU and notched up to F.Though,it may not be considered as a tremendous stride,it can be taken as a bouncing baby crawling on all four.
Having said that,I am baffled while some like the Djiboutian establishment led by Ismail Omar Guelleh deteriorated and succumbed to “morgue,”some like the regime of Ethiopia at the behest of Meles Zenawi maintained the same ICU status.To me it’s understandable if those who were in the morgue last year are still in the morgue this year.After all, dead bodies are mummfied and kept for various reasons.But the unchanging situation of a person in ICU at best cast a doubt in the diagnosis itself.However,if the diagnosis is said to be fool proof,then one has to also consider euthanasia/mercy killing/to put them out of their misery once and for all.How long one can remain in ICU?And how long one can callously see the suffering of another in ICU without any hope of redemption?
An Ethiopian Human Rights Defender exiled in Uganda