Mr Alban Bagbin (in smock) being taken round some of the facilities at the Sweden Ghana Medical Centre. The Ministry of Health has initiated a policy to make Ghana a health tourism destination in Africa by creating specialised health centres of excellence for the treatment of complicated diseases.
The essence is to attract people from all over Africa to Ghana to seek medical care for such complicated diseases and thereby rake in some income for the nation.
The Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) in Accra, the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi and the Tamale Teaching Hospital (TTH) in Tamale have been earmarked to play a leading role in the health tourism initiative, with the private sector providing the requisite partnership.
The Minister of Health, Mr Alban Bagbin, made this known during a facility tour of the Sweden Ghana Medical Centre (SGMC) Limited, a cancer treatment centre located at Adjirigano, near Accra.
It is an ultra-modern medical facility of international standard endowed with the best of medical equipment and specialists and touted as the second high-calibre cancer treatment centre in sub-Saharan Africa, after the one in South Africa.
Services provided at the SGMC include curative radiotherapy treatment, chemotherapy, pain control programmes, psychosocial support, clinical trials for treatment improvement, cancer prevention programmes and patient education programmes.
When the project is fully completed, the centre will provide more advanced radiotherapy, more basic diagnostic equipment, a 50-bed hospital,a bigger, ultra-modern chemotherapy suit, a patient hotel and the integration of other medical specialties.
Mr Bagbin was highly impressed with the facilities and programmes at the centre and noted that the SGMC would contribute significantly as a private sector partner to the vision of making Ghana a health tourism destination.
He made reference to the recent inauguration of a modern orthopaedic medical centre at Pantang near Accra, another private sector initiative with the involvement of Ghanaian expertise, as a positive sign of realising the dream of making Ghana a health tourism destination.
The minister was happy to observe that the rate of exodus of medical professionals in Ghana to overseas was reducing, adding that the “brain drain” that hit the country in the past was now becoming a “brain gain”, with many Ghanaian medical experts returning home.
He said with the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) in place for health workers, “many more of their brothers and sisters feel conditions are now good and so they want to come back home”.
He said the provision of a good working environment for health workers and the creation of an enabling legal environment were also giving confidence to Ghanaian medical experts abroad to return home.
Mr Bagbin spoke fondly of Sweden as a nation that got its priorities right and expressed the hope that that country would extend more support to Ghana with the view to expanding the cordial relations that existed between the two countries.
He was particularly happy that the SGMC had plans to establish a cancer foundation to support the cost of cancer treatment, especially for the poor, and pledged his ministry’s support to the SGMC in its operations, considering the major challenge cancer
posed to the nation.
The Board Chairman of the SGMC, Dr Henry Broni-Amponsah, announced that the Sweden Ghana Cancer Foundation would be launched next month.
He said many philanthropists in Sweden had promised to support the foundation and urged Ghanaians to lend their support in order to cushion the cost of cancer treatment.
The Clinical Medical Director of the SGMC, Dr Olof Stahl, said Swedish medical officers were happy to collaborate with their counterparts in Ghana to help improve cancer care in the country.