Kumasi, Dec. 9, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor has stated that the huge investment being made by the Government in the health sector would be wasted if doctors and other health professional continued to flee the nation to seek greener pastures abroad. He has, therefore, reiterated the call on health professionals to be more patriotic and to stay in the country to help the government in its efforts at providing quality health care delivery to the people. President Kufuor was speaking at a durbar in Kumasi on Friday to climax the golden jubilee anniversary celebration of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH).
He also cut the sod to commence the construction of a modern Accident and Emergency Centre at the Hospital. The Centre, which will be the first of its kind in the West Africa Sub-Region, would provide the needed specialist care to accident victims.
It would also help to address the complex medical needs of accident patients and further act as National Centre of Excellence for training of health professionals in handling accidents and emergencies. It would further conduct research into accident prevention, surveillance as well as support pre-hospital activities to complement the National Ambulance Service.
President said the project was in line with the desire of the Government to build strong capacity in infrastructure and human resource in health care to deliver world-class accident and emergency care to the people.
He said the Government was very much concerned about the loss of lives through road accident and expressed the hope that the centre would stand up to the challenge to help address problems of accident victims. President Kufuor indicated that the Government had taken a number of steps to stem the brain drain in the country. These included the provision of vehicles on hire purchase terms to various health professionals, special incentives for those who were posted to the very deprived areas and the establishment of post-graduate training for doctors and other health professionals.
He said the Government was in the process of finding a lasting solution to the brain drain by instituting better pay packages for health staff to replace the Additional Duty Hour Allowance (ADHA), which had been bedevilled with a lot of problems.
President Kufuor said despite the initial problems the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) had already taken off in 89 districts and appealed to all who had not yet registered to do so to enable them to enjoy the full benefits of the insurance scheme.
He thanked the Board, Management and Staff of the Hospital for their sacrifices, dedication and hard work, which had helped to improve its image and status.
Mr Owusu Adjei, Deputy Minister of Health, said the health sector had initiated a process to reshape the health status of the people in the country.
He said the aim was to put health firmly on the ground and make the individual responsible for his own health. Mr Adjei expressed concern about the increasing rate of accidents on the country's roads and said 90 per cent of these accidents, which resulted in deaths and fatalities were preventable. He said there was the need for Ghanaians to change their lifestyles to prevent diseases and accidents.
The Deputy Minister said the Government had procured 60 ambulances and trained 187 emergency technicians, who were working with the health sector to provide services to accident victims. He said the Ministry was collaborating with the Ministry of Road Transport to ensure discipline on the country's roads. Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare, Chief Executive of KATH, said the Hospital had experienced real qualitative transformation in every aspect of its development in the last 50 years.
He said the hospital with its present bed capacity of 1,000 together with the School of Medical Sciences of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), had trained 975 medical practitioners, who were currently holding responsible positions both locally and internationally, adding that there were 747 medical students in training at the Hospital.
The Chief Executive said from the initial annual in-patient admission of 8,000 in the early years the hospital currently admitted more than 43,000 patients a year. Average yearly Out-Patient Department (OPD) attendance stood at 450,000 with about 1,500 patients attending the Hospital daily.
Dr Nsiah-Asare said the Hospital had intensified post-graduate training and continuous professional development for its health professionals, adding that the Hospital spent five billion cedis this year to train its health professionals.
The Hospital had also instituted attractive welfare schemes to help to attract and retain staff.
These included the acquisition of plots of land to enable interested staff to build their own houses, establishment of provident fund and the provision of car loans and accommodation for staff. Dr Nsiah-Asare said the Hospital had also embarked on Information Communication Technology (ICT) programme to facilitate its activities and also usher it into tele-medicine to give on-line support to regional, districts and other hospitals. Nana Agyemang Atwereboanda, Otumfuo's Hiahene, who is also the chairman of the Board of Directors of KATH, said the Hospital had worked very hard to maintain standards and improve its image and advised the staff to keep it up.