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GOVT TRIGGERS POLICY RESPONSE TO TACKLE ‘NO BED’ DEATHS IN HOSPITALS ‒ OCCUPYGHANA PROPOSES SOLUTION

Health & Lifestyle

The Ministry of Health has set up a six-member committee to investigate administrative and care failures surrounding the death last week of Prince Anthony Opoku Acheampon after he was turned away from seven hospitals in the Accra metropolitan area. It will report back to the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, by the end of this month.

The Ministry of Health has set up a six-member committee to investigate administrative and care failures surrounding the death last week of Prince Anthony Opoku Acheampon after he was turned away from seven hospitals in the Accra metropolitan area. It will report back to the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, by the end of this month.

A senior source at the ministry said a further panel of experts will be convened to determine a set of policy responses to revive and revamp Ghanaian public health care.

The aim will be to address systemic blockages that have produced repeated tragedies in our hospitals ‒ notably the cases of Prince Acheampon, “Baby John” and the wife of Deputy Attorney General Joseph Dindiok Kpemka.

The source said the sector’s Achilles heel remains a lack of resources. Emergency care is particularly badly affected. Ghana has between 50 and 60 ambulances in working order to cater for a population of over 28 million.

The New Patriotic Party committed to encouraging private-sector participation in health care in its 2016 manifesto as a way of boosting and extending healthcare provision.

Various ventures such as the CFAO-owned Euracare diagnostics and cardio care centre in Accra, which opened in May this year, have been launched in line with this objective. Broader, routine and cost-effective health provision remains a big challenge, however, especially in rural areas.

Other manifesto commitments the NPP government has met include restoration of trainee nurses’ allowances. And the recently inaugurated Coastal, Middle Belt and Northern Development Authorities and the Zongo Development Fund have promotion of public health as part of their remit.

Meanwhile, OccupyGhana, a civil society group, has proposed a number of measures to address the situation.

They include the development of an ‘Emergency Response Service’ with a command centre that fields calls, receives data from the hospitals about bed counts. The centre should also be able to send out ambulances and paramedics to assist, stabilize and, if needed, transport patients to appropriate hospitals.

The group also wants the nation to move to where all hospitals will be resourced to enable them care for emergency cases.  In the interim, some hospitals should be designated as “Fit to Handle Emergencies.”

“Government must shore up the NHIS to allow for every Ghanaian to be given emergency care irrespective of the ability to pay,” the group proposes further.

Another proposal is for the proper equipping of hospitals designated as “Emergency Hospitals”, including the ability to give Triage care.

“Equipping hospitals also means making sure they are well stocked with needed emergency drugs. This prevents delays in care that occur as family members go around town hunting for drugs to buy so that their loved ones can be treated in emergencies,” the group adds.

Also more community hospitals should be available to provide immediate basic primary and preventative care while enacting laws to prevent hospitals from turning patients away without proper reason and a strategy for dealing with that patient’s care in another facility.

The group even wants facilities and personnel “who refuse to offer care to patients with life-threatening conditions should face sanctions.”

OccupyGhana also believes the time has come for doctors and nurses to be trained to stabilize emergency patients to a basic level, irrespective of the availability of beds and full emergency facilities.

The group also wants enough paramedics to be trained to be help stabilize and transport emergency cases to hospitals, with programmes to educate the population on how to differentiate a true emergency from an illness that “can be treated non-emergently.”

According to OccupyGhana, the “No Beds” excuse is “a cowardly cop-out, hiding a much deeper problem assailing Ghana’s healthcare system.”

It says while it may be true that a hospital like Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, which receives the bulk of emergency cases, may suffer from lack of beds, smaller and private hospitals should never be in such situation.

While being mindful of the economic challenges posed by the above proposal, the group thinks that is no excuse.

“If Ghana can afford hundreds of government 4x4 vehicles and police escort riders to push them through traffic, then Ghana can afford adequate ambulances to deal with emergencies, AND address our list of points made here,” OccupyGhana maintains.