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Upper West Regional Hospital suffers setback

BY: Emmanuel Modey

The Upper West Regional Referral Hospital in Wa has been operating at suboptimal capacity following a number of challenges facing the facility, including inadequate capital to purchase consumables.

There is also lack of medical professionals such as doctors and nurses, including vehicles, accommodation and the inability of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to reimburse the facility.

The Medical Director of the hospital,Dr Robert Amesiya, was speaking to the Daily Graphic in an interview in Wa last Wednesday.

The hospital began functioning on January 9,2020.

The $52-million hospital with state-of-the-art facilities was inaugurated onAugust18,2019 by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and later handed over to the Ghana Health Service after testing and commissioning of equipment.

Challenges

Dr Amesiya said the hospital had not been provided with any seed capitalto serve as a revolving fund, as such management was finding it difficult to procure basic and essential consumables such as gloves,especially during emergencies.

"Right from the word go we had to begin with struggles which was a bit frustrating.This is a facility where you cannot operate without the requisite investments. We are now operating at our wit’s end since no assistance is coming from anywhere," he said.

Dr Amesiya also said the hospital had only one rickety vehicle for administrative purposes and said there was also inadequate staff bungalows for critical staff such as medical officers, nurses and other paramedics.

The situation got worse when the hospital was selected as a regional centre for the treatment of COVID-19 cases, he added.

The director also said forthe past eight months the NHIS had not reimbursed the hospital for its claims, thus bringing its IGF under stress.

He said the hospital had only 20 bungalows even though it needed at least 50 medical officers, 350 nurses, junior staff and other staff for its 17 units to be able to operate efficiently.

Electricity

Dr Amesiya further said electricity was another major challenge confronting the facility.

At the moment, he said the hospital was connected to the Nadowli-Hamile power grid which was congested and frequently went off, compelling them to spend at least GH¢3,000 fuel to power their generator.

Attempts to get the facility hooked onto the national electrification grid at Sawla was proving difficult because the hospital cannot afford the GH¢1 million being demanded by the Northern Electricity Development Company (NEDCo), Dr Amesiya said.

He, therefore, called for the immediate intervention of the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders to help address the challenges to facilitate efficient healthcare delivery in the region.

Response

When contacted, the Upper West Regional Director of Health Services, Dr Damien Punguyire, said he was collaborating with the NHIA to settle the claims.

On the provision of seed capital, he said the Ghana Health Service was working towards addressing some of the challenges faced by the hospital.

He said the biggest challenge of his outfit was the failure of critical staff to accept postings to the region due to limited opportunities such as educational facilities for their children and accommodation, among others.

Dr Punguyire said some of the measures they were considering included the rollout of attractive incentive packages to motivate and attract staff to the area.

He expressed gratitude to the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) for its support, which included the allocation of bungalows to the health directorate to meet its staffing needs.