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Who is thinking for Ghana's failing health system? – Deputy GMA General Secretary laments

By George Nyavor
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Deputy General Secretary of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), Dr Titus Beyuo, is worried that for years not enough thinking has gone into planning the country’s healthcare delivery system.

Dr Beyou told the Super Morning Show on Joy FM on Monday, May 17, 2021, that a quick glance at Ghana’s troubled health system shows policymakers have for decades failed to make a conscious effort to fix persistent problems.

“As a people, we have not made a conscious effort to solve our problems,” he said.

His comment was partly in response to a revelation by Chief Executive of the Ghana Ambulance Service, Prof Ahmed Zakaria, on the Super Morning Show that a delay to convey a 12-year-old boy from the Volta Region to Accra was due to an existing protocol that requires ambulances to check destination health facilities about available beds before they transfer patients.

The boy died at the Battor Catholic Hospital after hours of waiting to be transferred to the 37 Military Hospital by ambulance. The issue has renewed public calls for a more people-centred, effective and swift health care system.

Submitting his personal opinion on the sad incident that occurred on Friday, Dr Beyuo said the explanation by Prof Zakaria for why the ambulance delayed for over five hours to convey the boy to Accra is understandable, but that is not enough.

“I can understand Prof Zakaria’s position and why the ambulance service will need confirmation before they move, but my first question is: why must it depend on individuals? Why must it depend on one doctor calling another?” he said.

He said an inter-hospital/health facility system that hastens communication between two or more doctors about any aspect of healthcare delivery across the country is long overdue.

“Why can we not have a system where doctors talk to each other on a system; that when you need to move a patient, right on the system, you can tell what is happening. Just call IT students from even secondary schools and give them a competition to develop a robust system that can help inter-hospital management of beds and referral systems,” he sounded perplexed when he made his submission.

READ ALSO: Ghanaians share harrowing hospital experiences after 12-year-old boy dies due to lack of bed, ambulance delay

He predicts that the infamous ‘no-bed syndrome’ that has characterized Ghana’s hospitals for years would be solved within a week of the development of such a system.

“Who is thinking for the nation as far as healthcare is concerned?” he quizzed.

“Our solutions are ad hoc and they don’t solve anything. We announce today that we have gotten 100,000 beds. To fit into what system? We brought in plenty ambulances, to fit into what system?” he said.

He said the National Blood Service, for instance, needs such a system to tell doctors which blood types are available and in what quantity to enable plan say surgeries with more accuracy.

On the show, some Ghanaians called in to recount their harrowing experiences at health facilities, some of which resulted in the death of their relatives or friends.

 Surgeons at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi are protesting over the unsafe theatre used for surgeries.

The Surgeons are also complaining about the lack of basic equipment at the Surgery department. They claim that several complaints lodged with the management have not been resolved adding that the unsafe surgery could lead to deaths if the department is not refurbished immediately.