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A Plague on Ghana’s Health Sector

• Lost Souls Turn In their Graves

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Evidently, not all is well with Ghana’s health sector. For months on end, the industry has been entwined in a web of uncertainties, failed promises and bizarre outcomes.

In Ghana today, the heavens must know your name for you to seek medical care and return to your kinsmen hale and hearty.

It’s a shame to note that only the lucky ones get admitted when brought to a health centre or hospital. It may not matter what condition the patient finds him or herself―they may arrive bleeding, in labour or even with an erupted cortex. Mostly, there is little help available and patient is left to die.

This is the sad state of health in Ghana today and watchers of the industry have interceded at various times, but rather than wane, the spate of failure is waxing stronger―strongly suggesting the extent to which the industry is reaching a near collapse.

Lack of basic health apparatus

Ghanaians are still wondering how a country after over 60 years of independence is still grappling with issues of “no bed” and “no ambulance.

For Ghana’s premier health care facility―Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), the experiences in the past week have been gut-wrenching and intimidatingly worrying.

Patient receiving healthcare in a plastic chair

The hospital was severely hit with the “No Bed Syndrome” forcing its management to place a halt on referrals from other health facilities.

The shortage of beds at the hospital’s Surgical Medical Emergency (SME) Unit during the week, compelled doctors to treat patients in plastic chairs, on stools, staircase and on the bare floor.

Responding to the matter of ‘No beds’ at KBTH, the Health Minister, Kweku Agyeman-Manu urged the public to consider seeking medical attention at other satellite facilities in order to ease pressure on the hospital.

He argues that KBTH is currently choked because most people choose to go there when their illnesses are not critical.

But unfortunately, Korle-Bu had not been the only hospital without beds over the weekends. At Amanfrom Hospital at Kasoa, a little boy who had come to the hospital for treatment, was asked to receive treatment on the floor because there were no beds available. But, a follow-up on the matter saw the hospital deny the allegations of the witness.

On matters of ambulances, the campaign for government to procure more ambulances was only rekindled following the death of the former vice President, Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur.

A Greater Mess

“Did the gods send nuts to those who have no teeth?” A question asked by 75-year-old Delali Kumah. While KBTH had limited beds, a 597-bed capacity medical centre sat empty for close to two years. This irony has since received persistent public outrage.

The $217 million facility which was supposed to have opened in November 2017, was kept locked to the public due to a purported ‘war’ between the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the University of Ghana over who manages the centre.

Ghanaians would not want to count the number of deaths that would have been avoided if only―if only―if and if only the internal wrangling had been avoided.

“The mills of God they say, grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small. We shall leave the repercussions to God to decide,” Kumahlor says.

Talk-Talk To the Rescue

“Ghanaians are having too many babies; that’s why health system is suffering. To reduce pressure on the health system, Ghanaians must control the rate at which they give birth,” the MoH’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Robert Cudjoe had suggested on Accra FM, yesterday.

But a section of the public say our leaders are “talking too much.” Speaking to some Ghanaians about their take on the issues facing the health delivery in Ghana, it was obvious that many were tired of ‘talk’ and wanted more ‘action’.

Hajia Gana who had brought her daughter to KBTH over the week for treatment said, “the situation was not the best and something had to be done.”

She said, “The administration here are doing their best and admitting everybody. They don’t turn us away. But they are overwhelmed by our numbers. It is not their fault, government must stop talking and act.”

For Gerald Kusi, “heads must roll” and specifically, the heads of those in-charge of the sector―the Health Minister and the Director General of the Ghana Health Service.

If no action is taken to rescue the health sector from the bizarre path it has trodden, “people who died from medical negligence may continue to turn in their graves because no lesson was learnt from their deaths,” Wisdom a 42-year-old taxi driver submitted.

A flicker of Hope?

The Information Ministry and Management Committee of the University of Ghana Medical Centre, had indicated yesterday that all is set for the UG Medical facility to begin operations by, July 18, 2018.

The MoH had also indicated weeks back that 275 ambulances were in the offing and soon to be added to the existing 55―what the country can boast of.

But Selasi Agbo, in response to these flickers of hope, said she would only breathe a sigh of relieve after the ambulances hit Ghana’s soil and the UG medical centre is opened.

By: Grace Ablewor Sogbey/ ksogbey@gmail.com

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