US hands over COVID-19 infrastructure to Ghana

BY: Doreen Andoh
Mrs Stephanie S. Sullivan (2nd left), US Ambassador to Ghana, assisted by Dr Anthony Ofosu (left), Deputy Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, commissioning the oxygen plant at the Ghana Infectious Disease Centre. Picture: Maxwell Ocloo
Mrs Stephanie S. Sullivan (2nd left), US Ambassador to Ghana, assisted by Dr Anthony Ofosu (left), Deputy Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, commissioning the oxygen plant at the Ghana Infectious Disease Centre. Picture: Maxwell Ocloo

The United States of America (USA) has provided additional infrastructural and capacity-building support for the national COVID-19 response effort for better health outcomes.

The package includes a $1.5 million movable 30-bed isolation system, fitted with a power generation plant and a water and sewage system at the Greater Accra Regional Hospital.

It also includes an oxygen generation plant with accompanying logistics such as cylinders at the Ghana Infectious Disease Centre.

The oxygen support also includes pulse oximeters and capacity building to enable health staff and engineers to know how to properly use and maintain the equipment.

Presentation

Inaugurating the oxygen generation equipment and symbolically handing over the isolation centre in Accra yesterday, the USA Ambassador to Ghana, Ms Stephanie S. Sullivan, said the plant was the first of four to be donated to the government.

“Later this month, we will commission three additional plants at the Cape Coast Municipal Hospital, Kumasi South and Tamale West hospitals. The US government is also providing 28 high-flow, high pressure oxygen concentrators to health facilities across Ghana.

“Combined, this oxygen equipment can treat more than 180 severe and critical COVID-19 patients at a time. This oxygen support is critical in the short term to help address Ghana’s COVID-19 critical care needs, and in the long term strengthen Ghana’s provision of oxygen, intensive care, maternal and newborn care,” she said.

The latest gesture, Ms Sullivan said, brought to over $30 million the support by the US government, through its United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to the national COVID-19 response effort.

Gratitude

In a speech read on his behalf, the Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, expressed gratitude to the USA for its contribution towards healthcare delivery in the country.

He said considering the number of oxygen-dependent COVID-19 cases the country had been recording, with the attendant oxygen shortages due to the disease burden, the gesture was most timely and essential.

GIDC enhancement

The acting Director of the Ghana Infectious Disease Centre (GIDC), Dr Joseph Adjetey Oliver-Commey, said the gesture would boost the centre’s operational capacity.

The 100-bed centre currently operates on only 30 functional beds.

“This situation is because of several factors, among which oxygen availability is key. To operate at full capacity, this facility will need close to 2000l/min glow of oxygen,” Dr Oliver-Commey said.

“The GIDC started operations in January 2021. To date we have attended cumulatively to 704 cases, made up of 447 outpatients and 257 in-patients. Some 207 (81 per cent) of our in-patients have been classified as severe to critical. This is the population for which the provision of oxygen is critical to their survival. Sadly, we have lost 39 cases (15.2 per cent) of our clients,” he added.

The Medical Director of the Greater Accra Regional Hospital, Dr Emmanuel Srofenyo, said as an emergency care facility, management and staff were particularly happy and grateful to the USA for setting up the isolation facility, especially because its current 16-bed isolation centre had become insufficient to deal with the numbers coming into the facility.

“All we are waiting for is an oxygen connection to the facility, then we can start using it,” he said.

Dr Srofenyo said one of the benefits of the facility was its movable nature, meaning it could be moved to any part of the country to respond to emergencies when the need arose.