Ghana: Indian doctor Uma Sen, who spent her entire career working in Ghana, was on Friday conferred its prestigious award – Member of the Order of the Volta (MV) – by President John Mahama in recognition of her “patriotic and humanitarian services to the people of this country in the field of health care”.
The citation read: “At the regional hospital, you devoted your full time to duty and brought smiles to many women who hitherto, suffered from infertility and could not have babies of their own. You saved many lives at the Regional Hospital, Ho. Ut is on record that you always responded positively to night and weekend calls even when you were not on duty.”
In spite of the fact that she had dedicated her whole life serving Ghanians, she was not able to get a resident permit until IANS took up her case two years ago when she was in retirement. Ghana Health Service’s regional director, Joseph Teye Nuertey, had then told IANS that “this woman deserve to be properly honoured by the country”.
Sen’s story is a remarkable one. Originally from India’s eatern West Bengal state, she arrived in Ghana in 1969 and has been in the west African country since then, spending her entire working life working at various hospitals before ending up at the Volta Regional Hospital at Ho.
Popularly called “Mama” or grandmother, Dr Sen who is now now 82, worked as a specialist gynaecologist but because she could not put up a house of her own, she ended up being looked after by the staff of the hospital because she did not marry.
Recruited by the health ministry in 1969, she worked at the Ashanti-Mampong Mission Maternity Hospital in the Ashanti Region till 1970, at the Upper East Regional Hospital in Bolgatanga from 1970 to 1972 and then from 1973 at the Volta Regional Hospital, where she retired in 1999.
“She was re-engaged on contract by the Volta Regional Hospital and paid from the hospital’s internally generated fund. Throughout her working life, in the ministry of health, she exhibited high level of professional competencies in medicine to the administration of both her colleagues and clients,” a letter on file at the Regional Health Directorate said.
Neurtey said Sen trained many doctors in obstetrics and gynaecology, some of whom are professors in the various fields of medicine in the country.
In addition, “Dr Uma Sen never married, she spent her life working in Ghana and has rendered meritorious services to the people of Ghana. It is our opinion that Dr Uma Sen should be honoured by the ministry of health and Ghana Health Service to serve as a motivation of 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.
After her medical studies at the University of Calcutta in 1953, she worked at the Tata Main Hospital at Jamshedpur from 1953 to 1962 and then went to London to work at various hospitals including Middlesborough General Hospital in Yorkshire and later at the Southend General Hospital.
It was after that she took the decision to come to Ghana. “Through my friend, Smority Biswas, who had visited Ghana before knew a bit of the country, I expressed the interest and she worked out my employment for me and I came to Ghana,” said Sen.
She was well prepared for the trip because she arrived in Ghana in a ship with a car that she had bought. “I drove myself from the Takoradi Harbour to Ashanti-Mampong by myself and just fell in love with the people instantly because they treated me as one of their own.”
Sen said that since arriving in Ghana she got busy with work and forget about enjoying her life. “I just worked and worked, sometimes, I even forget to have my meals, but I do not regret coming because it has been a great experience for me.”