Emmanuel Opoku Oduro’s thoughts … Korle Bu: The pride of health care delivery in Ghana

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We all know how important it is to be in good health. Our health affects everything from how much we enjoy life to what work we can perform. The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No. 3 (GOOD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING) seeks to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. SDG 3 is to make sure everyone has health coverage and access to safe and effective medicines and vaccines.

In the 25 years before the SDGs, big strides were made according to reports from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on the SDG’s. Preventable child deaths dropped by more than half, and maternal mortality went down by almost as much. And yet, some other numbers remain tragically high, like the fact that 6 million children die every year before their fifth birthday, or that AIDS is the leading cause of death for adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa.

Established on October 9, 1923, the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital has grown from an initial 200 bed capacity to over 2,000. Korle Bu Teaching Hospital is the premier health care facility in Ghana. Located in Accra, it is currently the only public tertiary hospital in the southern part of the country. Korle Bu has affiliates with the medical school of the University of Ghana. Three centres of excellence – the National Cardiothoracic Centre, the National Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the Radiotherapy Center. It is currently the third largest Hospital in Africa and the leading national referral centre in Ghana. In 2019, the hospital gained a license from the Health Facilities Regulatory Agency (HeFRA), after meeting the requirement.

Korle Bu, which means the valley of the Korle lagoon, was established as a General Hospital to address the health needs of the indigenous people under Sir Gordon Guggisberg’s administration, the then Governor of the Gold Coast at korle Gonno.

Population growth and the proven efficacy of hospital-based treatment caused a rise in hospital attendance in Korle Bu. By 1953, demand for the Hospital’s services had escalated so high that the government was compelled to set up a task force to study the situation and make recommendations for the expansion of the Hospital.

 

The government accepted and implemented the recommendations of the task force which resulted in the construction of new structures, such as the Maternity, Medical, Surgical and Child Health Blocks. This increased the Hospital’s bed capacity to 1,200. Korle Bu gained teaching hospital status in 1962, when the University of Ghana Medical School (UGMS) was established for the training of medical doctors.

The UGMS and five other constituent schools are now subsumed under the College of Health Sciences to train an array of health professionals. All institutions of the College however, undertake their clinical training and research in the Hospital. At the moment, the Hospital has 2,000 beds and 17 clinical and diagnostic Departments/Units.

It has an average daily attendance of 1,500 patients and about 250 patients. People from far and near come to the hospital for medical assistance. Clinical and diagnostic departments of the Hospital include Medicine, Child Health, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Pathology, Laboratories, Radiology, Anaesthesia, Surgery, Polyclinic, Accident Centre and the Surgical/Medical Emergency as well as Pharmacy. Other Departments includes, Pharmacy, Finance, Engineering, General Administration

The National Reconstructive Plastic Surgery and Burn Centre, the National Cardiothoracic Centre and the National Centre for Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine in particular also draw a sizeable number of their clientele from neighbouring countries such as Burkina Faso, Nigeria, and Togo. Korle Bu Teaching Hospital continues to blaze the trail when it comes to the introduction of specialised services. It carried out the first ever kidney transplant in Ghana in 2008. It is one of the few hospitals in Africa where sophisticated laboratory investigations are carried out. Other specialised services the Hospital provides include brachytherapy intervention for the treatment of prostate cancer and keyhole surgeries.

As in every organisation, the hospital is in pursuit of its mission and vision, the hospital intends to pursue the following objectives that would form the basis/focus of planned interventions (i.e. strategies, programs and actions):

  • To improve continuously the quality of healthcare and enhance clients/patient’s satisfaction in a cost-effective manner.
  • To improve the technical and managerial skills, knowledge, competences and capabilities of all staff.
  • To boost staff morale, commitment and satisfaction through motivation.
  • To enhance the hospital’s ability to attract and retain adequate and competent staff.
  • To make efficient use of the unique competencies and capabilities of the Medical and other allied health personnel.
  • To ensure positive and mutually beneficial relations with external collaborators, donors, NGOs, other organisations and individuals.
  • To improve relations with the general public and immediate community and capacity for Monitoring and Evaluation.

The hospital sets out to meet and exceed the patients’ expectation of care and at all times treat them with dignity and respect. It also sets out to provide the best possible work environment for its employees, which will enable them live a fulfilled social and professional life.

First Lady of the Republic Mrs. Rebecca Naa Okaikor Akufo-Addo, has new 41-bed Pediatric and Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital. Named the Rebecca Akufo-Addo PICU, the facility consists of 21 bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and 20 bed Paediatric Intensive Care Unit to provide quality and adequate health care to children to children. It replaces the old Children’s emergency ward which, since its construction in the 1960s, has seen no renovation despite being the recipient of out-patient attendance of thirty thousand (30,000), and six thousand (6000) admissions per annum.

Delivering her keynote address at the commissioning of the facility, Mrs Akufo-Addo who is also Founder and chief patron of The Rebecca Foundation said the project was in fulfilment of a promise she made following an appeal sometime in 2017, by the Korle Bu Child Health Department to the Rebecca Foundation to help fix the challenging conditions facing the department. Subsequent inspection she said, revealed a situation of limited space and inadequate equipment, resulting in delays and avoidable death.

After the much talk about “no bed syndrome” that negatively impacted the health sector of Ghana, citinewsroom.com reported on September 9,2019 of Korle Bu acquiring new 200 beds to help eliminate the menace affecting the facility even though that is not enough. This situation had forced doctors to treat some patients on benches and on the floor while others were made to wait on plastic chairs, as a result of congestion at the emergency unit of the hospital.

The hospital has not only helped the people of korle Gonno but the whole country and the surrounding countries at large.

The writer is a student of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ)

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