Parliament approves $50m to complete UG Medical Centre

BY: Rebecca Quaicoe Duho & Doreen Andoh

Parliament has approved $50 million for the completion of the remaining works at the University of Ghana Medical Centre (UGMC).

According to the Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, although the centre looked complete from the outside, there was much more work to be done to make it fully functional.

Addressing a news conference to commemorate this year’s World Health Day in Accra on Wednesday, he cited, as an example, the absence of a back-up generating set as a major obstacle to the opening of the facility.

He explained that the MRI and imaging equipment could not be operated on the national grid because of possible fluctuations.

“There are certain little things but which are very necessary that have to be done and so why the rush?” he asked.


Legon Medical Centre

There has been public outcry as to why the multi-million dollar facility remains dormant, although the centre appears to be completed.

The first phase of the 597-bed capacity hospital, initiated in 2012, was inaugurated by former President John Dramani Mahama in 2016.

The super-tertiary or quarternary facility, which is an extension of tertiary care in reference to advanced levels of medicine, can rival any world-class hospital.

It has about eight huge blocks, which house an emergency centre, an outpatient and administration block, a women and children’s centre, a medical training and simulation centre, among others.

Operational

The first phase of the UGMC, which was expected to be fully operational by July 2017, houses different specialised centres, such as emergency, imaging, operating theatres and laboratories.

The project was funded with a loan facility from Israel, with counterpart funding by the Ghana government.

The project is expected to have a phase two to add 350 beds to the facility.

The second phase will provide specialist facilities, including heart and cancer treatment and rehabilitation centres and a hostel for families of patients.

Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyemang-Manu

Reason for the delay

Mr Agyemang-Manu stated that those who were questioning the delay in opening the centre might not know what was actually on the ground

“We are doing no good with this issue; you can go and see things for yourself. It is not completed or ready to operate now,” he told the doubting Thomases.

Turning his attention to those who insisted the project had been completed, he said: “I am the minister and I want to tell Ghanaians that the facility is not complete. We operate it at our own disadvantage.”

Management controversy

Making reference to the managerial controversy that had embroiled the centre, the minister said a meeting among stakeholders would be convened today to iron out the differences.

He said the management system which was agreed on at the start of the project was a cause for worry and that had informed the renegotiation by the stakeholders.

However, he expressed the hope that “something close to finality” would be decided mutually at the meeting.

Mr Agyemang-Manu assured Ghanaians that the government was committed to providing quality a healthcare system and infrastructure and, therefore, would not compromise any opportunity to do that.

“We will facilitate the taking of the best decisions under this circumstance to boost healthcare delivery,” he said.

Visit to facility

A visit by the Daily Graphic to the facility last Monday showed that the edifice, constructed at a cost of $217 million, was still under lock and key.

The site where the hospital is located was serene and the only noise one could hear was the cawing of crows hovering around the buildings.

During the visit, it was observed that the facility, guarded by security personnel from the University of Ghana, had maintained a well-manicured artificial carpet grass, well kept flowers and beautiful lanes.

According to sources close to the hospital, there had been many high-level activities, including meetings and the movement of heavy equipment into the facility.

In November 2017, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Ministry of Health (MoH) indicated that the ministry was carrying out due diligence on the facility and how it would be managed.