Daily attendance at Bolgatanga Central Hospital has increased following the introduction of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Dr Aduko Amiah, Medical Director in-charge of the hospital said at the weekend.
Dr Amiah, who was conducting Mr Mark Woyongo, Upper East Regional Minister, round the hospital during a familiarisation visit, said the current daily attendance rate was about 400 patients, with the possibility of a further increase during the rainy season.
He said a room at the OPD that was being used for patient's NHIS folders and other documents was full, giving rise to the urgent need for the expansion of facilities at the hospital.
Dr Amiah said even though the huge increase in attendance involved genuine cases, there were also indications that the NHIS system was being abused by some people, resulting in the rise in numbers.
"The number of medical personnel and nurses has remained relatively low, leading to a lot of pressure and a scary doctor-patient ratio," he said.
Presently, there are five Ghanaian medical personnel and eight Cuban medical staff at the hospital and 80 nurse as against the 250 nurses required.
At the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department, Dr Peter Baffoe, Specialist in-charge, said the incidence of maternal and child mortality had been on a consistent decline at the hospital during the past three years.
He said from 750 deaths per every 100,000 births recorded in 2006, the figure reduced to 500 per 100,000 births in 2007, and further to 360 per 100,000 births in 2008.
Dr Baffoe said within Bolgatanga Municipality, the mortality rates had been significantly low but often increased by cases from areas outside Bolgatanga, as the hospital was a major referral centre.
He said compared to the past, more women now visited the hospital for anti-natal care as a result of the free maternal health care introduced by government.
Dr Richard Anongura, Specialist Dental Surgeon in-charge of the dental department, said two Community Oral Health Officers (COHO) had been trained to assist in the provision of dental health services, being the only one catering for the Region.
They would man dental centres at Bawku and Sandema.
Mr Woyongo called for special incentive package for medical staff working in rural areas to motivate them and entice qualified personnel from other areas to accept postings to the Region.
He suggested the introduction of a scheme by which specialists from teaching hospitals could visit the Region periodically to assist.
Mr Woyongo commended staff at the hospital for continuing to give of their best in spite of the numerous constraints confronting them, and said government would not relent in its efforts to improve their working conditions.
Naba Sigri Bewong, Paramount Chief of Sakoti Traditional Area, and Chairman of the hospital's Board of Directors, urged Members of Parliament from the Region to practically demonstrate interest in the hospital.
He called on Municipal and District Assemblies in the Region to allocate part of their Common Fund to support the hospital.