Ghana an emerging health sector motivation
rom MASAHUDU KUNATEH in Accra, Ghana
Ghana Bureau Chief
ACCRA, (CAJ News) – GHANA is positioning itself to becoming a powerhouse in the provision of healthcare in the continent as it makes the most of the turmoil in the sector in neighbouring countries.
The country has taken advantage of the challenges of accessing quality healthcare including under-resourced health facilities, low remuneration of health staff, and frequent strikes in health facilities in the sub-region.
Such turmoil is commonplace especially in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy and most-populated country.
It has emerged more than 5 000 Nigerians seek healthcare in Ghana annually, paying over $1 billion.
Similarly, patients from other West African countries including Burkina Faso, Gambia, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Niger Senegal and Sierra Leone are also seeking such services in Ghana.
Ghana has been making significant investments into the provision of health in recent years.
In the last few years, about US$2 billion has been invested in the provision of modern hospitals and the upgrading of facilities.
There are currently two teaching hospital projects, three institutional hospitals, four regional Hospitals, 14 district hospitals, dozens of polyclinics and scores of health centres.
Thousands of community-based health planning and service (CHPS) compounds are at various stages of construction in the country.
When completed, these projects will collectively deliver 6 000 new hospital beds to facilitate access to improved health care by 2017.
Currently work on the $217-million University of Ghana Teaching Hospital (UGTH) is almost completed, with the facility expected to commence operations in March.
The 617-bed health facility is expected to provide cutting-edge medical training for about 1 000 medical doctors to improve the current doctor-to-patient ratio and serve as a research centre for various health professionals in the country.
The teaching hospital built with a loan from the Israeli government The facility is said to be the first of its kind in West Africa.
It will help improve the delivery of health in the country and the sub-region.
The facility also has a modest staff accommodation of 36 one-bedroom flats.
The project is being undertaken by Messrs Engineering and Development Consultants Limited, with medical consultation provided by the Sheba Medical Centre in Israel.
The Project Coordinator of the Project Implementation Unit (PIU), Prof. Aaron Lawson, explained the hospital would commence with internal medical care would be fully functional by end of March.
As part of the project package, about 80 Ghanaian health and non-health professionals would undergo training at the Sheba Medical Centre.
“Currently, 20 senior specialists and consultants are in Sheba, while nurses, administrators, biomedical engineers and pharmacists will also be trained,” he said.
Elsewhere, the second phase of construction at Tamale Teaching Hospital is ongoing.
The cost of the project is €48.5 million.
The second phase of the project would add 400 beds to make it an 800-bed facility.
Additionally, the expansion of the 420-bed Ridge Hospital in Accra is ongoing at a cost of US$250 million.
The hospital is designed to contain components, such as the civil, mechanical and electrical works for covering a comprehensive Diagnostic and Treatment block to ensure 24- hour surgical service.
Accommodation for 42 staff members, school of anesthesia, 100-body capacity mortuary, main road and car park would also be constructed as part of the project.
Other components of the facility include an imaging department, delivery unit, accident and emergency unit, neonatal intensive care unit, intensive care unit (ICU), emergency ICU as well as a burns unit.
Civil works of the project which is about 70 percent complete, the French firm, Buoygues Construction Company, said.
Other ongoing regional health facility projects include the regional a 386-bed Bolgatanga hospital, a 250-bed Ashanti Regional Hospital at Sewua-Kumasi, a 160-bed Upper West Regional Hospital, Wa, all in the Upper East, Ashanti, and Upper West regions.
Several new and existing district health facilities are currently under construction and rehabilitation across the country.
Some 1 260 CHPS have been constructed while 1 600 others are at varying stages of implementation.
Meanwhile, the Eye Care Centre at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, the second leading referral hospital in West Africa after Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, also in Ghana, has enabled enhanced specialist eye care services to Ghanaians and other nationals in West Africa.
Minister of Communications, Dr Edward Omane Boamah, also highlighted that in another major exercise, under the National Medical Equipment Replacement Programme, old equipment and machines at the various major health facilities would be replaced.
“This US$264 million initiative has ensured the provision of critical diagnostic and treatment equipment for over 150 hospitals nationwide,” he said.
New machinery would be installed at all health centres where necessary in the country.
Boamah, a trained medical doctor, said most prominently, under this programme, the nation’s foremost facility, the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, received significant resources to replace and rehabilitate obsolete equipment and theatres.
These unprecedented investments are not only changing lives but are beginning to yield results as evident in the positive Human Development Indicators currently being recorded.
The latest Ghana Health and Demographic Survey indicates considerable improvement in infant mortality, child mortality, under-five mortality, percentage of deliveries in health facilities as well as maternal and ante-natal health care.
The survey showed that whereas infant, child and under-five mortalities stood at 50, 31 and 80 deaths per 1 000 live births in 2008, they dropped to 41, 19 and 60 deaths per 1 000 live births respectively in 2014.
Such investments explain why Ghana is doing well against its peers in the area of health.
Ghana has recorded a decline in its Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) by 49 percent between 1990 and 2013. This is against global reduction of 45 percent, according to United Nations.
The report, released by Maternal Mortality Estimation Inter-Agency Group (MMEIG) of the UN indicated MMR had reduced from 760 in 1990 to 380 in 2013 and expected to drop further.
The rate of Skilled Attendant at Birth (SAB) to delivery cases had gone up from 60,3 percent in 2010 to 63,1 percent in 2013.
This is also expected to improve further, according to health workers.
– CAJ News
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