As the recurrent discussion about Ghana’s poor healthcare service, especially emergency care, resurfaces, the Ghana Medical Association wants citizens to charge at the government for change.
Deputy General Secretary of the Association, Dr. Titus Beyuo, told Joy FM’s Super Morning Show on Tuesday that the deterioration at Ghana’s biggest hospital, Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) and other government facilities across the country is a testimony government that does not priortise healthcare.
“How is it possible that as a nation, we have only 54 functioning ambulances and we are okay?” he asked.
He also lashed out a recent directive by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to government-accredited hospitals and clinics to stop turning away patients because there are no beds.
The GHS asked the hospitals and clinics to stabilise the situation of patients needing emergency care before referring them to another facility.
While acknowledging that the directive is a step in the right direction as it would reduce the number of deaths blamed on what has come to be known as ‘no bed syndrome,’ Dr. Beyuo fears that directive by the GHS risks becoming a permanent solution to a bigger, nationwide healthcare problem.
“If we are content with the administrative fiat 'do not turn people away,' the outcome is what we are seeing. The quality of care is going to decrease. Patients are actually just going to die in hospitals. Relatives are going to go back with diseases and infections…and at the end of the day the Ghanaian is going to be the loser,” he told Super Morning Show host, Daniel Dadzie.
He added: “We Ghanaians have a problem…when we bring in temporary solutions, they become the norm, they become the permanent solution…the Ghanaian deserve better.”
The discussion on Joy FM’s flagship morning show was triggered by social media rancour triggered by photos of patients receiving care in the open at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.
A registered nurse at the health facility, Kobby Blay, told SMS that “[Patients were] sitting in plastic chairs in very uncomfortable positions, some were being supported [being held upright] by their relatives, you could see that they have been doing this for some hours and there are some sitting right on the floor...There were no nurses around because they were [overwhelmed]."
Photo: Dr Kobby Blay laments the poor conditions at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital on the SMS
Watch Kobby's account of the situation at Ghana's premier hospital
Ghana's poor healthcare delivery system
For decades, Ghana’s health sector has suffered major deficiencies. Major issues include lack of funding, congestion and the lack of essential equipment.
The attitudes of some healthcare workers such as nurses have also come into question over the past few months. Many patients have recounted harrowing stories of breach of rights. Others have blamed doctors and some nurses for treating them with disdain.
But the biggest problem facing the health sector is a lack of a comprehensive emergency care system.
Only 54 ambulances are functional, and the emergency call system functions poorly.