Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Patients on admission call for special voting in future

Patients on hospital admission have appealed to the Electoral Commission (EC) to devise mechanisms in the future to enable such people to also exercise their franchise in
selecting political leaders.
     A total of 128 in-patients on admission the Ghana News Agency (GNA) visited at six hospitals and clinics in the Volta Region during the Sunday December 28 Presidential Election Runoff said they could not vote.
     The health facilities are the Volta Regional Hospital; Ho Municipal Hospital; Ketu-South District Hospital, Aflao; the Central-Aflao Hospital and New Hope Clinic and Sape-Agbo Memorial Hospital all in the Ketu-South District.
     The GNA also realised that relatives, who were attending to these patients, missed the opportunity to go and vote. At the Volta Regional Hospital, a referral facility, for instance, 
some of the patients came to the medical centres with their Voter Identity Cards.
     Esther Osei and Rebecca Gbadogo, both registered voters on admission at the maternity ward, said they would have travelled to Accra to vote.
     Miss Mary Agama, Midwife on duty, said it was important that a decision to involve in-patients in the voting process was taken before the next general election.
     She said she had to convince three relatives of a patient, who had just delivered that they could go and vote because their patient was in safe hands.
     Miss Agama said she believed thousands of people nationwide had missed the opportunity to vote because of their hospitalization."Hospitalization takes people away from their homes without warning, but they should not lose their right to vote," she stated.
     Madam Felicia Kpato, whose relative was on admission at the Ho Municipal Hospital's Maternity Ward, said it was impossible for her to travel to Vane on that Sunday to exercise her franchise.
     Madam Lucy Kornu, who would have voted at Juapong, said she was unable to do so on December 7, 2008 because her relative was rushed to the Ho Municipal Hospital and was admitted again on December 27 2008, a day before the runoff.
     Meanwhile, Miss Laurentia Kpatakpa, Volta Regional Director of the EC, had told the GNA that the Commission had no special provisions for patients on admission to exercise their franchise.  "That has been the case since 1992," she explained but said proxy voting, was the alternative left for such people to exercise their franchise because nobody could tell when he or she would fall sick and be on admission.
 Ms Kpatakpa said the Commission did not have the resources to get to all hospitals in order to get those on admission to vote.
 She said what the Commission had been doing for such in-patients was to get them registered at the hospitals during voter registration exercises.
 Ms Kpatakpa said it was only hospital staff such asdoctors, nurses, allied personnel and others who might be on duty on voting day who could apply for special voting if they wished.

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