Parliament has by unanimous decision approved a loan amount of €47,163,000 for expansion works (Phase II) on the University of Ghana Medical Center (UGMC).
This follows the approval and subsequent adoption of the report of the Finance Committee on ASHRA Export Credit Facility agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and Bank of Hapoalim B. M. for an amount of up to €40,643,000.00 and a Tied Commercial facility agreement in the amount of €6,520,000.00 between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and Bank of Hapoalim B. M.
According to the Finance Committee report, Phase II of the project which is expected to be funded under these agreements will focus on the strategic income generating services for short, medium and long-term sustainability of the hospital including a technical assistance package.
The project will also target new clinical services and medical interventions that will give the health facility a competitive edge over others in the country as well as the sub-region.
The services include a nephrology unit, facilities for cardiothoracic and neurosurgery, facilities for Assisted Reproductive Technology, additional VIP wards for Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Internal Medicine and Surgery with additional specialized medical equipment and the provision of drug and non-drug consumables.
Phase II of the project further includes; income generation items such as a commercial pharmacy, additional housing accommodation units and a commercial morgue with facilities for funerals.
The objective of the project, according to the report of the Finance Committee, is to establish a state-of-the-art training facility for medical education that will facilitate the relocation and accommodation of all institutions of the College of Health Sciences to the University of Ghana, Legon campus to serve as a nerve center of the proposed Medical Village.
The Center is to function locally as a referral hospital and operate at a specialized level to attract clientele beyond the borders of Ghana to take advantage of the specialties offered in the country which is expected to be first class in the sub-region.
Further to that, the health facility is expected to serve as a center for medical tourism for those in need of medical services within the sub-region and beyond for super tertiary care and specialties.
The Chairman of the Finance Committee, Dr. Mark Assibey-Yeboah, commenting on the facility told the House that the completion of Phase II of the project will enable the hospital to be fully operational with all the departments being functional and all services being provided.
As to whether the government intended to on-lend the loan proceeds to the UGMC, Dr. Assibey-Yeboah told the House that the committee was informed by the Deputy Minister for Finance, Hon. Abena Osei-Asare that the loans will be repaid from the Central Government Debt Service Account and that there will be no on-lending agreement with the University of Ghana.
The Minority Spokesperson on Health, Hon. Yieleh Chireh, contributing to the discussion on the credit facility wondered why the proposed date by the government for the opening of the UGMC has not been met.
He said the delay in making hospitals and CHPS compounds operationalized clearly shows that the government is not focusing on the health sector as a priority area, stressing that such decision “is the reason why the no bed syndrome is manifesting clearly”.
He also expressed worry as to whether the loan approved will be enough to complete Phase II of the project should there be changes in the exchange rate of the major trading currencies against the Ghana Cedi.
Chairman of the Health Committee, Dr. Kwabena Twum-Nuamah, on his part told the House that delay in operationalizing the UGMC had to do with the absence of equipment and or tools. “You need such components to be able to treat referral cases”, he underscored.
According to him, one challenge associated with most health institutions in the country is that once they are put up, they begin to run down because of the fact that they don’t make enough revenue to be able to maintain their facilities but stressed that the UGMC facility has been equipped with income generating component to be able to generate revenue to run the facility.