At long last, the 650-bed University of Ghana Medical Centre (UGMC), which was kept lying dormant for more than 18 months after the first phase of the project had been inaugurated as a result of an impasse over who should manage the facility, has been opened to the public.
The Daily Graphic applauds the government for showing leadership by making the multi-million dollar facility functional after many Ghanaians had expressed worry about the impasse and the fear that the millions of dollars that had been invested in the project would go waste as the tussle between the university authorities and the government over who had the right to oversee the facility dragged on.
Although work is yet to be completed on the UGMC, we urge all stakeholders to support the about 20-member initial staff currently offering medical services to have the peace of mind to give their best as they serve patients who report at the facility.
We urge the Ministry of Health and the university authorities to bury the hatchet and ensure that on no account would the UGMC be made to shut down or perform below its capability. Equipment that breaks down should be replaced or repaired immediately.
Already, the referral centre has set the pace by rolling out a paperless system which has curbed cases of missing folders and also cut down on patients’ waiting time by about 60 per cent.
This means that it is already on the way to becoming a hospital of repute, as intended, and we must not exchange that for anything.
Among others, the Health Information System (HIS) being operated at the UGMC has been connected to the Medical Records Unit, the Cash Office, the Pharmacy, wards, the mortuary, catering services, making it possible for doctors to know at all times medicines which are available at the hospital’s pharmacy, thereby providing resident specialists the opportunity to consult from home.
Results of X-ray and laboratory tests have been uploaded directly onto the system connected to consulting rooms to be appraised by doctors and this has also improved revenue collection, which is very vital for running such a huge facility.
However, while this is very laudable, if system failures are allowed, as has already been happening, it will compromise the gains and scuttle all attempts at making the hospital a truly modern facility.
While the UGMC brouhaha may have passed, there are yet many unresolved issues with many health facilities across the country which need resolving if we want to promote a healthy nation.
The Kaneshie Polyclinic, which serves the medical needs of a population of 373,239 in the Okaikoi Sub-metro area in Accra, is heavily congested, with many patients being referred to other hospitals due to lack of space.
Meanwhile, a multipurpose building which was initiated in 2004 to ease the burden on the old structure has stalled for 14 years, while the Bank of Ghana Hospital, a 60-bed capacity ultra-modern facility completed in 2017, is yet to be put to use, although all major equipment and hospital materials have been duly installed.
The Akotosu Hospital in the Ashanti Region intended to serve residents of Aboabo-Akotosu, near the Kumasi Airport in the Asokore Mampong municipality, has also been left uncompleted for almost two decades.
There are many more health facilities which have stalled over the years and we urge the Ministry of Health to do a countrywide check to bring all of them on stream to show commitment to the health needs of Ghanaians.