‘If all of us are moving forward together, then success takes care of itself’ – Henry Ford
Hurray! Today, July 18, 2023 marks exactly five (5) years that the University of Ghana Medical Centre LTD commenced with its phased operationalization model.
The journey to operationalize the UGMC has been quite arduous and eventful. Nevertheless, with the hard work of all stakeholders and amidst a global pandemic of historic proportions, the Centre has begun fulfilling its mandate of being an academic medical centre that provides world-class patient care, training and research services.
Let us roll back into time to capture a few landmark events that have occurred over the past five years even as the Centre continues to relentlessly pursue its vision.
Establishment of a committee for the development of a management model for the operation and administration of the UGMC – April 2018.
In April 2018, the Chief of Staff of the Republic of Ghana constituted a committee to consider and propose an effective and enduring model for the management and administration of the University of Ghana Medical Centre (UGMC). This Committee was chaired by former Deputy Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Anarfi Asamoa-Baah.
Appointment of Interim CEO-July 2018
Shortly afterwards, on July 18, 2018, the General Manager of the Trust Hospitals, Dr. Darius Kofi Osei, was also appointed by the President of Ghana, H. E. Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, as the Interim CEO of UGMC. The mandate given to Dr Osei by the President was to see to the operationalisation of the UGMC.
Upon assumption of duty, the Interim CEO, Dr. Osei, together with the Interim Management Committee (IMC) who were a mix of experts from the University of Ghana, the Ministry of Health, Private sector, Ministry of Finance and the Christian Health Association of Ghana.
The team hit the ground running to ensure the progressive operationalization of the Centre. They thus implemented, through the initial management team, a value for money audit for Phase I, commenced OPD services in three (3) clinics (OBGYN, Family Medicine & Paediatrics), the OPD Pharmacy, Laboratory and Ambulance Services whilst the Operations (comprising Procurement, Client Services, Health Information Management, Stores, I.T. etc) Nursing & Midwifery, Human Resources, Finance, Technical & Support Services Directorates were all set up.
Service level agreements, policies standard operating procedures, and protocols were also drafted to enable the Centre commence the incremental scaling up of its services to the general public.
The management/ ownership tussle between the Ministry of Health and the University of Ghana was successfully resolved and both parties agreed that the UGMC was to be managed as a partnership between the Government and the University of Ghana. Both parties also agreed that the Centre needed to be managed as a special purpose vehicle to ensure that it became a self-financing entity in the near future.
Commencement of Phase II – June 2019
In June 2019, the commercial agreement to activate Phase II of the project was signed by the Ministry of Health under the leadership of the Minister of Health, Hon. Kwaku Agyemang Manu and Parliament approved a USD 50m loan from Bank Hapoalim in Israel to undertake the completion of Phase II of the UGMC Project.
Complexity of Project
As a result of the complex linkages that existed between Phase I of the UGMC Project and Phase II of the Project, the Interim Management Committee and the Interim CEO, Dr. Darius Osei, through the Centre’s representatives on the Project Management Team that had been set up by the Ministry of Health, negotiated with Engineering, Construction & Development LTD (the Project Contractor) and thus influenced how Phase II would connect adequately to Phase I for holistic service provision.
Operationalization of the UGMC Medical Training and Simulation Centre (MTSC) – 2019
The MTSC of the UGMC is the biggest in the sub-region and commenced operations in January 2019. Since then, the MTSC has provided medical simulation training with both high and low fidelity manikens to over 2,000 individuals comprising staff of the UGMC, students at the College of Health Sciences, a number of health training institutions and hospitals, as well as corporate organizations in the country.
Phased operationalization of Patient Care Section (Hospital) -2019
From November 1, 2019, the Centre started scaling up its health care delivery services and currently has 40 specialized/sub-specialized OPD clinics (up from 3 OPD clinics in operation in 2018). This section also houses the biggest general ICU in the country and the 2nd largest cardio- thoracic centre in the sub-region. Appointment of substantive CEO and Inauguration of Substantive Board of Directors- August 2020.
In June 2020, the interim CEO, Dr. Darius Osei was confirmed as the substantive CEO of the Centre. A substantive Board of Directors for the Centre was also inaugurated by the Minister of Health, Hon. Kwaku Agyemang Manu on August 21, 2020.
The Chairman of the Interim Management Committee, Dr. Anarfi Asamoa-Baah was again appointed as the Chairman of the new Board together with a few other members of the IMC. The current UGMC Board is therefore a reflection of a partnership arrangement and is an 11 – Member Board composed of representatives from Government (Ministry of Health) and the University of Ghana.
Operationalization of the UGMC Medical and Scientific Research Centre (MSRC) -2020
In line with the phased operationalization strategy by the Board through Management, the UGMC Medical and Scientific Research Centre (MSRC) was also activated in 2020. The research centre’s mandate is to facilitate cutting-edge translational research aimed at discovering new treatments, methods and procedures to improve the health status of Ghanaians, Africa and the world.
The focal areas of the MSRC include cardiovascular genetics, maternal and foetal medicine, regenerative medicine, transplant medicine, infectious diseases, big data science and clinical trials. Within a year of its operationationalization, the MSRC has received research grants worth about US$800,000. These grants include that for the Crown Coronation: COVID-19 Research, one on Investigating Infection Prevention and Anti-microbial Stewardship Opportunities at the UGMC, another on the Impact of COVID on HIV Care among others.
Upcoming in-patient clinical trials unit-first in sub-region
A key pillar of the Centre’s mandate is to perform translational research to bring new treatments and medical devices that will enhance the health of its patients, Ghanaians and the world at large. To achieve this goal, the MSRC of the UGMC needs a state-of-the-art Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) where the local trials will be performed safely to international standards such that medications taken by Ghanaians/Africans in the sub-region for chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer, are suitable for our population as it is now clear that certain medications for hypertension, etc. do not work as well in black patients as in caucasians because the trials for these medicines were not done on African subjects. A similar scenario exists for current personalised cancer treatments which cannot come to Ghana unless we are able to do the trials *in Ghana. The MSRC is currently working on an ambitious fund-raising drive to raise an additional US$5 million dollars as it partners with MD-Lancet-Cerba to establish the first-ever in- patient clinical trials unit in West Africa. We are all encouraged to contribute our widow’s mite by clicking on http://Donate.changoapp.com
Another good news is that the UGMC- MSRC has just been registered on TriNetX platform, an international patient health information database that will enable global pharmaceutical giants ( Big Pharma) to have access to the Centre’s data for clinical trials purposes. This makes the Centre the only one in the sub-region to be registered on the TriNetX platform.
The COVID-19 Pandemic: 2020 – 2021
At the onset of COVID-19 pandemic in Ghana in March 2020, the UGMC was designated as one of the National COVID-19 Treatment Centres by the Ministry of Health in April 2020. Consequently, in that year alone, the UGMC successfully managed more than 700 individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 including patients who required intensive care service as well as over 4,000 subscribers of the COVID-Connect online service which was a collaborative project between UGMC and PharmAccess (an international non-profit organization with a digital agenda dedicated to connecting more people in sub-Saharan Africa to better healthcare).
Harnessing the power of collaborations -2022 onwards
In order to empower the UGMC to provide high quality services in the increasingly complex and constantly changing field of healthcare, the Centre, in 2022 increased its strategic collaborations with like-minded organizations in order to share knowledge, expertise and experiences that would engender improved health outcomes.
Some of the organizations that the Centre partnered with were UK-based Arrhythmia Alliance Hearts of Ghana to perform its first open-heart surgeries which were highly subsidized, TRIO Bridge Foundation, another UK-based charity, helped to train the Centre’s Obstetrics and Gynaecology specialists on the management of obstetric emergencies. Other partnerships included those with America -based Brain Project Africa Foundation who successfully performed highly subsidized brain and spinal surgeries on two occasions in 2022.
There have been numerous collaborations with local organizations as well which are all geared towards making the UGMC a centre of excellence in health care delivery in the sub-region. It is worth noting that the services offered at the Centre were gradually scaled up from 2018 even as Phase II of the UGMC Project was ongoing until Phase II was completed and commissioned by His Excellency Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo inu June 2022. In December of that same year, the UGMC gracefully received an award for outstanding multi-specialty hospital of the year from the Ghana -West Africa Healthcare Awards Foundation.
Role of various Directorates
Throughout the past 5 years, the heads of the various directorates in the Centre have all worked extremely hard to ensure that service processes, resources and business operations/relations proceed smoothly and are conducted in the most efficient manner for optimum resource utilization and attainment of desired corporate goals.
UGMC @5: 2023
This year started on a very good note when in March 2023, the Centre once again received national honours and presidential awards from His Excellency, Nana Akufo – Addo, president of the Republic for the marvelous services the Centre provided to patients during the Covid-19: Pandemic in partnership with PharmAccess. Earlier in the year (February 2023) the Centre partnered with PharmAccess again to launch an innovative online patient-centred digital service for the management of diabetes and hypertension. In April 2023, the UGMC also performed its first paediatric catheterization interventions in collaboration with the Global Hearts Care team (an international charity organisation) which were also highly subsidized.
The Future – Moving forward together
The presence of a training and research centre, together with patient care services, is not a common model in Ghana and indeed the rest of West Africa. Moreover, the UGMC has ambitious plans of becoming one of the best destinations for medical tourism in the sub-region and this it intends to do whilst taking cognisance of the legitimate desire of patients for quality care whilst maintaining confidentiality.
Establishing a world-class academic medical centre is no doubt a herculean task and as the UGMC gears itself towards the provision of world-class services, it needs to be resourced with the necessary infrastructure and human resource to be able to deliver more sub-specialised services.
Indeed, by leveraging the right collaborations and partnerships, the Centre is positioning itself to continue to inspire hope as well as promote health through advanced clinical practice, education and research in a client-centric manner. Herein lies the clarion call to every public-spirited individual to support the UGMC to provide quality health care for ALL. Ghana cannot and must not fail in this pursuit!
Five years on, the Centre is calling on all Ghanaians to believe in the vision of the Centre and more importantly to believe in themselves!
Ayekoo to those who dreamed!
Ayekoo to those who planted!
Ayekoo to those who watered and continue to water!
Congratulations to the Board, Management, Staff, Clients and all our stakeholders.
UGMC is 5 years. To God be the Glory!