While the challenges facing healthcare delivery, especially within Africa, are varied, one fundamental problem hospitals grapple with on a daily basis is the prolonged stay of patients after they have been discharged. Aside from increasing already-existing healthcare costs, this phenomenon causes overcrowding and increases the risk of morbidity among patients since they are more prone to get further illnesses.
The problem for the majority of these patients is raising the necessary funds to pay their medical bills, especially if they are the breadwinners of their families. In some very deprived communities, opinion leaders, including pastors, headteachers, and family heads, rely on the contributions of their constituents to provide support for hospitalised members of their community.
Hospitals across the country are forced to occasionally write-off these debts or have some flexible arrangements with families in order to make room for other people who need medical care. Individuals and organisations occasionally come to the rescue of these distressed patients, while some patients do the unimaginable by seneaking out of the hospital.
Through its Homecoming initiative, Vodafone Ghana has been consistent in helping the country address this challenge. For a decade now, the charity arm of the organisation, Vodafone Ghana Foundation, has gone to the aid of over 3,000 patients in various hospitals across the country.
Besides reuniting families, this remarkable initiative has given back hope to families and communities as patients have gone back to their livelihoods and are able to fend for their families, while some are now able to pursue their dreams. The joy of families who have been impacted by this initiative is met with tears of joy and usual euphoria in the entire community as patients return home.
One of the beneficiaries of this initiative is five-year-old Joseph Sackey, who was treated for severe burns. He spent eight weeks in the hospital because his family abandoned him in their efforts to raise the required funds. Joseph was reunited with his family in Weija, Accra in 2013.
In 2018, Vodafone went to the aid of William Mehuadzo, a victim of the Nkonya and Alavanyo conflict. William, who is a farmer, was shot from behind while working on his farm one early morning. He became unconscious and was rushed to a nearby hospital and then transferred to Korle-Bu. He prolonged his stay like other patients because raising the said amount for his treatment was a challenge until the Vodafone Ghana Foundation came to his rescue.
The Vodafone Ghana Foundation continues to receive commendations from stakeholders within the healthcare delivery space. The Director of Ghana Health Service, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, in a recent remark, said:
"Through this initiative, Vodafone is changing lives, putting smiles on the faces of people and reuniting families. I believe this great gesture represents what the Vodafone Foundation evidently stands for, bringing relief and support to the vulnerable in our communities.’'
Vodafone Homecoming’s contribution to decongesting hospitals during this pandemic cannot be overstated. In 2020 and 2021, Vodafone sent more than 700 patients home from hospitals in all sixteen regions of Ghana. This also helped slow the spread of the pandemic in a way.
In its efforts to find a lasting solution to this challenge, the Vodafone Ghana Foundation has registered and renewed cards for almost 1,000 beneficiaries on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to enable them to continue to receive quality healthcare at a very reduced cost.
The Vodafone Ghana Foundation and Sustainability Lead, Amaris N.A. Perby said:
"Vodafone Ghana Foundation is dedicated to improving livelihoods and communities throughout the country. Healthcare is one of our focal areas for the Foundation’s strategic orientation, and we will continue to champion this course with our various health initiatives’’.
Many health institutions have benefitted from Vodafone’s benevolence. These include, Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, 37 Military Hospital, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kumasi South Regional Hospital, Sunyani Regional Hospital, Worawora Government Hospital, Jasikan District Hospital, Bibiani Government Hospital, Holy Family Hospital, Goaso Municipal Hospital,
St. Joseph Hospital, Nkwanta, Ledzokuku-Krowor Municipal Assembly (LEKMA), Shai Osudoku Hospitals, Eastern Regional Hospital, Cape Coast Teaching Hospital, Ho Teaching Hospital, and Effia Nkwanta Regional Hospital.
The 2022 edition of Vodafone Homecoming has just begun, and it has already reached out to patients in selected hospitals within the Northern Region.