The sad story of Bolgatanga Hospital… Inadequate doctors, nurses & poor working environment

By William N. Jalulah, Bolgatanga - Ghanaian Chronicle
By William N. Jalulah, Bolgatanga - Ghanaian Chronicle

3/31/2009 5:43:26 PM -

DESPITE SEVERAL calls by the authorities of the Bolgatanga Regional Hospital for doctors, specialists, general nurses, and other critical staff, successive governments seem to have turned deaf ears to them.

Inadequate number of these essential health brains has been identified as the biggest problem facing the hospital. The situation has not only put a lot of strain on the few staff, but has also contributed to poor health care delivery in the hospital.

Poor and inadequate physical infrastructure and equipment, unreliable supply of utilities, especially electricity and water, land compensation and security problems due to lack of fence wall, are all serious challenges facing the hospital.

The medical Director of the hospital, Dr. Adoko Amiya enumerated these challenges when the Upper East Regional Minister, Mr. Mark Woyongo, paid a familiarization visit to the hospital last Friday.

Established in 1946, the hospital was meant to serve the minority white population of the then Gold Coast. It is a regional hospital and training center for nurses and midwives, with a total bed complement of 207.

With total staff strength of 262 on the payroll, the hospital has engaged the services of 55 casual workers and 70 National Youth Employment Personnel. The catchment's area population is projected at 1,004,244.

Dr. Amiya said there were six medical doctors when he joined the hospital in November 13, 1986, but as at today, there were only five doctors, with one of them being paid by the hospital because he was reengaged after his retirement.

He lamented that instead of the required number of 250 nurses for the hospital, only 121 were serving. Even out of this number, only 80 were presently at post because the remaining 41 were undertaking further training.

It was revealed that the Out Patient Department (OPD) was now too small to accommodate the increasing number of people at the hospital. 4,000 patients on average visit the hospital daily.

Dr. Amiya was also worried about inadequate staff accommodation and frequent power outages. The standby generator which could have saved the situation has also broken down

He stated clearly that the hospital did not belong to Bolgatanga alone, but a regional one that serves as referral hospital, and must therefore be supported.

The medical director regretted that Bolgatanga Municipal Assembly had not helped salvage the situation. He recalled that when the hospital wrote several letters to the assembly asking for staff accommodation, and later refuse containers, their requests were turned down.

Dr. Amiya admitted painfully that the refusal of doctors to accept postings to the hospital was largely due to poor staff accommodation, poor working environment and conditions and lack of motivations. Staff at the hospital who accepted to stay could no longer upgrade themselves because any attempt to leave for further studies could aggravate the situation.

He said some of the staff, including himself, wrote several examinations for promotions but there were no responses as to whether they qualified or not. Meanwhile some of their colleagues and even juniors working in the south have been promoted.

The chairman of the hospital board, Naba Sigri Bewong, said all appeals to Members of Parliament from the region to assist the hospital have not yielded any dividend. He appealed to the Regional Minister to meet with the MPs and ask them to show interest to the hospital.

Having acquainted himself with the numerous challenges facing the hospital, Mr. Woyongo paid tribute to all staff, including the eight Cuban doctors who were on a two-year contract, for their commitment to work under such trying conditions.

He gave assurance that government was committed to providing quality healthcare delivery for its people and would, therefore, address the challenges of the hospital.

Mr. Woyongo directed the hospital authorities to assign someone to check on the standby generator and present to his office the inventory of all the spare parts that needed replacement.

He promised to also study the paper presented to the Regional Coordinating Council on the land compensation so that possible arrangements could be made to address the issue with the landowners.