We have returned to the issue of the University of Ghana Medical Centre (UGMC) because of its potential critical role in health delivery.
Yesterday, the Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, told the Daily Graphic in an interview that Parliament had approved US$50 million to finish work on the centre.
The opening of the US$217-million, 597-bed capacity facility, which was started in 2012, has been delayed by what Mr Agyemang-Manu referred to as the absence of essentials such as a back-up generator, without which an MRI and imaging equipment, for instance, could not be operated because of possible fluctuations if the national grid was relied on.
While we do not doubt the minister’s assertion and his claim that there is much work to be done to make the hospital fully operational when it is opened, we are concerned about the equipment and fittings that have already been mounted at the various departments that have been completed.
Patients who could access professional and better healthcare services from those finished departments are also being denied as long as the facility remains closed.
Many Ghanaians have expressed worry over the fact that the facility, which looks complete from the outside, as all structures are in place, will start deteriorating or become obsolete because it has already remained idle for over a year.
Such investment going waste because of the delay in adding up more facilities will certainly delay health delivery in the country, in the face of grappling with providing the best health care for citizens.
Already, the shortage of medical professionals is affecting effective healthcare delivery. There is also the challenge of inadequate medical facilities to cater for the growing population.
That is why we believe that the departments that have been completed must be made operational, while concrete steps are taken to expedite action on the remaining facilities that are needed to make the centre fully operational.
The Daily Graphic is aware that already over 70 Ghanaian health professionals who will form the critical mass of staff for the facility have undertaken training programmes to prepare them to run the centre. They are also to act as trainers for other professionals who will subsequently be engaged at the medical centre.
The centre is also expected to receive patients from across the West African sub-region, as it is supposed to be the first of its kind in the sub-region.
However, all these laudable elements will come to naught if we do not hasten the operationalisation of the facility.
If people are in a rush to see the facility become operational, as the Health Minister indicated, we believe it is for good reason – there have been too many projects that have been left to deteriorate for various reasons and we do not want to see the UGMC go along that path.
The Daily Graphic urges the minister to, as a matter of urgency, see to the settling of the managerial controversy that has embroiled the centre and which has been of much concern to stakeholders.
We pray that the meeting scheduled for today among stakeholders will once and for all succeed in ironing out all the differences and come up with timelines to fix all remaining equipment and facilities to open the centre without more delay.