Published on January 4, 2014 (Page 10)
MOST public healthcare facilities in the country lack basic equipment to render quality service to patients. It is a common feature to find pregnant women in long queues waiting to be attended to by over-stretched healthcare professionals. Others are often found sleeping on mats with their newborns because of lack of beds.
The 37 military hospital has been in existence for more than five decades but cannot boast of a Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). Just like other public hospitals, the Paediatric Unit does not have neonatal ventilators. Newborns with breathing difficulties and other critical cases have for years received intensive care with improvised equipment at the hospital.
The Daily Graphic on October 28, 2013 in an article titled, "Help make Nkrumah Ward the child's haven," drew the public's attention to the plight of the children's ward of the hospital. Aside the need for $95,000 to renovate and expand the entire ward, the Paediatric unit needed neonatal ventilators as a matter of urgency.
Two months ago, the Officer-in-charge of the Child Health Department of the 37 Military Hospital, Col (Dr) P. K. Ayibor, told the Daily Graphic that at that time, none of the public hospitals in the country had neonatal ventilators. “We normally try another machine called CPAP mainly for oxygenation. The neonatal ventilator is for both oxygenation and ventilation of neonates with respiratory failure. If it works, fine. otherwise, the obvious happens”.
Such revelation is certainly depressing because what happens to a newborn with respiratory failure in the event he/she does not respond to CPAP is obvious.
Governments are responsible for equipping public health facilities to provide quality health care to the public.
After 56 years of independence with abundant natural and human resource, it is unacceptable for hospitals in Ghana to lack anything that will save lives.
Two months after the publication of the article soliciting for assistance for the 37 paediatric unit, the Japanese Embassy in Ghana has provided $120,726 to help the paediatric unit to acquire two neonatal ventilators.
The assistance was made possible through the efforts of the Centre for Pregnancy and Childbirth Education (CePACE), a non-governmental organisation (NGO).
An agreement for the provision of grant assistance was signed on December 24, 2013. The neonatal ventilators and accessories are expected to be installed at the hospital before the end of February 2014.
The grant assistance were provided under Japan’s Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project (GGHSP) scheme.
As a result of the financial assistance, the hospital, which currently does not have a PICU, will use an available space with unused beds at its general Intensive Care Unit for PICU.
Installation of the neonatal ventilators and accessories is expected to take place before the middle of February 2014.
It is heartwarming for the Japanese Embassy to assist the hospital especially when the grant formed part of 10 approved projects for the year. An average of 500 project proposals are submitted to the embassy on an annual basis but the Embassy found it necessary to assist the hospital.
Such benevolence cannot be overlooked. The Japanese Embassy in Ghana and CePACE deserve commendation for such kindness.
Children are the future of any nation and it becomes worrying when their basic rights such as quality health care, shelter and education are not met.
Philanthropy is good but the government must make it a point to adequately resource all public healthcare facilities across the country. The government must as a matter of urgency, take steps to resource all public hospitals with neonatal ventilators.