The Minister of Health, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, has said work on the third phase of the Upper East Regional hospital in Bolgatanga would be completed by March 2020 to ease congestion at the facility.
The 177-bed facility, which was about 99 percent complete came to a standstill for the past two years, a situation which had over the years mounted pressure on various wards of the facility, and compelled hospital officials to admit patients on mattresses on corridors, especially at the children and maternity units.
The entire structure including; newly fitted ceramic sinks and ceiling fans, were engulfed with dust, while cobwebs were visibly seen at corners both within and outside the facility.
Mr Agyeman-Manu said this in an interview with the media after he had inspected the facility and interacted with management and staff of the Regional hospital in Bolgatanga as part of his two-day tour of the Region to acquaint himself with challenges confronting health personnel and health facilities.
He said phase two of the facility was completed, and indicated that monies that were allocated for the project were exhausted and the contractor had to leave site. "Some more civil works would have to be done, but clearly you could see from what we visited; bare rooms, no equipment, no bed, nothing."
"Luckily, we are getting close to funding, Cabinet has approved, for us to go and secure some loans to rebuild the place properly. We have done all that we can and laid the paper before Parliament, the Finance Committee has actually looked at it. We are borrowing close to about US$20million for equipment and the extra civil works that we need to do."
He disclosed that immediately after Parliamentary approval, the Ministry would tender and procure equipment for the structure, "I am anticipating that by close of the year, we may have come to commission this place," he said.
He said even if there would be delays on the part of the Ministry of Finance who borrow on their behalf, "by the end of the first quarter of next year, we may have come to commission the phase three of the Bolga hospital that will create enough room and give us more facilities to work with."
On the issue of few doctors in the facility, Mr Agyeman-Manu, who is the Member of Parliament for Dorma Central, said the Doctor-Patient population was a major concern of stakeholders in the Region.
He said even though there was little improvement from previous years, the Region still had doctor-Patient ratio of about 1:25,000. "We need to improve on that, we have managed to bring in a few Cuban Doctors to support Doctors here as well, yet they still need some more Doctors."
The Minister said "we are training and coming out with a lot of Doctors, our only problem is that they still want to concentrate themselves in the south, so we need to do some engineering, people are working our Human Resource (HR) policy to see what packages we can use to attract some more to the north to beef-up the numbers here."
Dr Patrick Atobrah, the Medical Director at the Regional Hospital, disclosed that the facility managed to retain and pay four Medical Officers who finished their house job and were waiting to be posted to augment service delivery from the hospital's Internally Generated Funds (IGF).
He said in spite of the shortage of Doctors, the facility did not record any under-five malaria mortality in the first half of 2018, adding that the facility's laboratory was adjudged the only "four-star laboratory" in the country.
Dr Atobrah said the hospital was blessed with hardworking staff who gave out their best in spite of the challenges.