By Francis Kokutse
Accra: Hope is at hand for an Indian gynaecologist who has worked for 45 years in Ghana without a permanent residency permit and is currently being sheltered in the ward of a local hospital.
Uma Sen, 80, popularly called “Mama”, who has spent over half her life working as a specialist all over Ghana, is now being looked after by the staff of the Volta Regional Hospital at Ho, her last place of work.
“This woman deserves to be properly honoured by the country,” Joseph Teye Nuertey, regional director of the Ghana Health Service and a doctor who has taken a keen interest in Sen’s life, told IANS.
He was unhappy that Sen still has to renew her resident permit, adding that when her case came to his knowledge, he wrote to the Volta regional minister last year to facilitate a permanent resident permit for Sen.
“This has since not been done,” he rued.
Nuertey’s letter says Sen was recruited by the health ministry in 1969 and worked in various hospitals around the country before retiring in 1999 from the Volta Regional Hospital. “She was re-engaged on contract by the Volta Regional Hospital and paid from its internally generated fund. Throughout her working life, she exhibited a high level of professional competency,” the letter said.
Neurtey has also written to Ghana’s health minister to honour Sen for her services to the country. He has pointed out how Sen has trained many doctors in obstetrics and gynaecology, some of whom have even become professors in various branches of medicine.
“Dr. Uma Sen never married. She spent her life working in Ghana and has rendered meritorious service to the people of Ghana. It is our opinion that Dr. Uma Sen should be honoured by the ministry of health and the Ghana Health Service to serve as a motivation for foreign nationals working in the country. Dr. Uma Sen has no intention of going back to her country of birth and should, therefore, be appropriately settled in the country, preferably in the Volta Region where she has many friends,” the letter said.
“l love Ghana and cannot see myself living permanently in India; I would pay visits there but not go back,” Sen told IANS in an interview.
Sen, who is now weak in the legs, looks cheerful and has a sharp memory. “My love for Africa began when I was in college in India, and I remember entering an art competition with a drawing of Africa, which won me an award,” she said.
After her medical studies at the University of Calcutta in 1953, she worked nine years at the Tata Hospital at Jamshedpur before going to London to work at various hospitals. She then decided to come to Ghana.
“I expressed my interest to my friend, Smrity Biswas, who had visited Ghana and knew a bit of the country. She worked out my employment and so I came to Ghana,” Sen said.
“I drove myself from the Takoradi Harbour to Ashanti-Mampong in a car I bought and just fell in love with the people instantly because they treated me as one of their own,” said Sen.
“Here I just worked and worked; sometimes, l even forget to have my meals, but I do not regret coming because it has been a great experience for me,” Sen reminisced.
She spends her time reading the Bible. “I am not a Christian but l am very curious and want to learn about other faiths.”