One hundred and eleven new hospitals in 18 months across the country sounds fantastic! So is the Year of Roads and the Free Senior High School (FSHS) programmes currently being rolled out.
But as it happened during the rolling out of the FSHS and the Year of Roads, the Agenda 111 hospital project, which was unveiled last week by the President, is being greeted with pessimism by a section of the society.
Will it be done; can it be delivered?, are some of the nagging discussions and debate in the public space. And depending on which political lens one is wearing, Agenda 111 Hospital Project is either feasible or an empty slogan.
Nonetheless, it will be exceptional to see this very important social intervention policy fully delivered, sustained and maintained for the good of mother Ghana.
The benefit that will come to us, as a people, is tremendous. Agenda 111 will not only create more jobs immediately and into the future, but its completion will help to deepen delivery of quality health care at the district level across the country, generally boost access to healthcare services as part of efforts to attain the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal Three, as well as open up the economy to spur accelerated growth.
With this in mind, it was satisfying to see our President lay the first blocks for the building of the first 111 Hospital Projects at Trade in the Atwima Kwanwoma District of the Ashanti Region last Tuesday.
As planned, 101 hospitals will be constructed in districts without health facilities, six hospitals will be built in the newly created regions, construction of two new psychiatric hospitals for the middle and northern belts, among others.
But why has Agenda 111, a laudable project by all standards, attracted so much pessimistic comments. The answer may not be far to reach. Over the years, under the present Fourth Republic and even as far back as the First Republic, the country is replete with many unfulfilled promises, uncompleted projects with some being outrightly abandoned. To list them will take a while, but the ones which immediately come to mind are the Boankra, Affordable Housing, Komenda Sugar Factory, E-Block School projects.
That is why, for any project, we need to have an implementation plan and stick to the plan. The policy is clear and fantastic, but if we are to deliver the objectives of Agenda 111, we need to stick to the implementation plan.
We should not be seen to announce it only as a policy. Many projects in the country have failed and not seen the light of day, simply because they were announced as mere policies with poor or no implementation plans.
For Agenda 111, implementation plan will involve the acquisition of land, architectural drawings and design for the projects, appointment of contractors, right equipment for the projects which must be readily on site, time frame for the execution of the projects, breaking the ground for the commencement of the projects and funding availability for the projects.
All these action plans are essential and once in place will ensure the seamless erection and completion of all the projects under Agenda 111.
Resource constraints, undoubtedly, are hindrances to the successful completion of any project. For Agenda 111, each hospital is being constructed at a cost of almost $16.88 million, comprising $12.88 million for the construction and $4 million for medical equipment. Reports indicate that an initial $100 million is available and additional funding will be sourced to complete the project in 18 months. That is why we need to be prudent, insist on value for money and commit to the timely completion of the project to bridge the health development gap.
The scary COVID-19 global pandemic has brought to the fore the need for the country to upgrade, expand and distribute health facilities equitably across the country. Hence Agenda 111, as an ambitious investment drive has come in to bridge the health development and care gap.
The whole nation is eagerly looking forward to the completion of this great project and nothing must be done to disappoint. Taking health delivery service to the doorstep of every Ghanaian has not been easy and it is our hope that Agenda 111, upon completion, will help to solve the health deficit in the country as well as stimulate the economy of various communities in which the facilities are to be created.
Additionally, the successful construction of the project can easily position Ghana to become a centre of medical excellence and a destination for medical tourism in the sub-region.