Heed Otumfuo’s call on Ashanti Regional Hospital

The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, only last Wednesday had cause to call for the operationalisation of the Ashanti Regional Hospital in what could pass as an unpleasant verdict on the relevant authorities.

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The sentiment, conveyed in person to the Minister of Health, Dr Bernard Okoe Boye, and his deputy, Adelaide Ntim, when they visited the Manhyia Palace, could not have come at a more appropriate time and moment, given that the fully completed and equipped facility has not been put to use for nearly two years.

The Ashanti Regional Hospital at Sewua is a 250-bed health centre. With construction and the installation of relevant equipment long completed, it has, however, been left idle even though what remains is the construction of a two-kilometre access road and connection of utilities to the facility.

As the Asantehene said, after resources had been invested into putting up the facility and equipping it, it would be inappropriate for it to be left idle for all the equipment to become obsolete and unusable (refer to story in the Friday, June 28, 2024, issue of the Daily Graphic).

Beyond that, he said operationalising the regional hospital would reduce pressure on equipment and personnel of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in the wake of the huge number of cases they had to attend to on a daily basis. It is common knowledge that although KATH is supposed to be a referral health facility, circumstances sometimes make

it the primary care centre for basic conditions. It is difficult to understand that a practical solution such as the operationalisation of the regional hospital had either escaped the authorities or that it had not been considered necessary enough to feature in the scheme of things in terms of maximising available healthcare resources.

In plain words, the neglect of the hospital is a pure waste of resources that cannot be justified under any circumstance. The situation, the Daily Graphic believes, is a poor reflection on a country that has already cut the sod for 111 hospital projects, christened Agenda 111, to underutilise a facility of such prime importance.

The hospital in question is one of nine contracted to Egyptian investment firm, Euroget De-Invest, with six of them already inaugurated and currently in use. Along with a 60-bed hospital project at Salaga in the Savannah Region and a 500-bed military hospital at Afari in the Ashanti Region, the Ashanti Regional Hospital is the only one left to be operationalised.

It is a known fact that at the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, the health system had to fall on one of those facilities to manage the crisis. That was the Ga East Municipal Hospital at Kwabenya in the Greater Accra Region.

It was upon coming to terms with the reality of the country’s inadequate healthcare infrastructure that the government proposed to build 111 hospitals across the country to fill the void that came to reality through the difficult times of COVID-19 in the country.

At the moment, projects that had taken off under the agenda were at various stages of construction. It is, therefore, unimaginable that a fully equipped hospital has been left idle, with equipment likely to rust away or become obsolete in the course of time.

Fortunately, the minister was accompanied by the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, and other management staff of the ministry and the GHS on his visit to Manhyia. Many of the figures in authority have been at post for long periods to be abreast of the situation with the Ashanti Regional Hospital.

The military hospital at Afari has also been dragged in a political tug of war with a back-and-forth haggle over the state of equipment, timelines for completion, among others. It still remains uncompleted at the moment.

It serves no purpose to leave such essential facilities in virtual ruin and society poorer through a dereliction of duty. If the minister and his entourage were in the region to inspect some ongoing projects in the health sector, they could not have skipped issues about the regional hospital.

The Asantehene’s intervention was a necessary wake-up call to officials to identify their real essence in position of trust and make their portfolios count.

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