THE government has initiated investigations into a case in which a part payment of 1,750,000 pounds was released to a United Kingdom-based contractor in 2003, for the construction of 221 housing units for staff of the Regional Hospital in Sunyani.
The project, which was to be completed within 10 months, was to cost a total of 3,494,120.00 pounds, but was later reviewed downwards to 3,303,883.00 pounds, for which the part payment was released by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to the contractor, Messrs International Hospitals Group (IHG).
“Unfortunately, the project was never undertaken and the part payment to the contractor has not been recovered. Government is investigating the issue and would ensure that the housing units are constructed so as to facilitate the provision of residential accommodation for all categories of health personnel working at the hospital”.
The Vice-President Mr John Dramani Mahama disclosed this when he officially inaugurated the Regional Hospital in Sunyani last Friday as part of activities marking the Brong Ahafo@50 celebrations.
The Project, which was completed in 2000 comprises 13 specialised units, including eight operating theatres, Radiology Department, three X-ray units, Automatic Processing Unit, Image Trans-intensifier, Ultra-Sound Scan among others.
However, Mr Mahama said when the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government assumed the mantle of leadership in 2001, the hospital, even though completed, was never inaugurateded during their eight years’ tenure and was not also put to use until 2003, for reasons that were considered largely paroachail by many.
The Vice-President said during the first National Democratic Congress (NDC) regime, a policy was outlined to provide a hospital in every regional capital.
The first phase involved the commencement of work on the construction of three modern regional hospitals for Cape Coast, Ho and Sunyani.
Consequently, the Vice-President said a contract was awarded to Messrs International Hospitals Group to construct a 300-bed Regional Hospital in Sunyani, which had become inadequate to sufficeintly cater for the increase in population.
“When I was informed that the hospital was to be officially commissioned as apart of the celebration of the Brong Ahafo@50, I wondered why a hospital would have to be officially commissioned after almost six years of use”, the Vice-President asked.
“The commissioning of the hospital today, is a clear manifestation of our policy to promote and extend free access to good quality and affordable basic primary healthcare delivery services to all Ghanaians.
“Phase two of the programme will continue with new modern hospitals in Wa, Bolgatanga and Koforidua”, he said.
The Vice-President disclosed further that the government was committed to the implementation of the one-time health insurance premium payment as a further improvement on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), as well as undertaking the necessary review in order to streamline the current system which was beset with many challenges including fraud and theft at both the facility level and in the administration of the scheme.
Mr Mahama, added that actuarial studies for the one-time premium were being undertaken and the government expected to implement this promise in its current term of the NDC administration.
The Vice-President said the government was also concerned about the various challenges facing health workers, and would do everything possible to make work and remuneration, attractive for health professionals as a means of motivating them to curb the brain drain in the sector.
Mr Mahama also used the opportunity to appeal to medical personnel, including doctors, nurses, and other paramedical staff to accept to work in rural areas where their services were most needed, saying the government was considering a restructuring of remumeration packages to give incentives and rewards to health workers who accept postings to the rural areas.
Dr Elias Sory, the Director General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) urged health workers to be centred and disciplined, saying that “whatever be our differences, we should ensure that our patients get the necessary support and attention”.
He called on the chiefs and people of the region to play their part to ensure that the government’s goal to ensuring health delivery was achieved.
The Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Mr Kwadwo Nyamekye-Marfo, gave the assurance that the government would do everything within its power to ensure that the old equipment which were not functioning properly were replaced with new ones to ensure quality healthcare delivery to the people.
Earlier in his welcoming address, Dr Aaron Offie, the Regional Director of Health Services, said the hospital could match with any other health facility in the sub-region.
He said apart from being a referral hospital in the region, it also provides training for doctors on housemanship. He commended the management and staff of the hospital for their hard work and for ensuring quality healthcare for the people in the face of the numerous challenges.