Pioneering healthcare in Ghana
The Korle Bu Teaching Hospital is Ghana’s “premier healthcare facility”. It is also celebrating its 90th birthday.
Writer Ian Armitage
Project manager Eddie Clinton
Ghana has made significant improvements in healthcare and there have been remarkable achievements when it comes immunisation rates and under-five mortality in the past few decades. a lot of thanks must to go to the government and its development partners.
However more can always be done. Established on October 9 1923, the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital continues to “blaze the trail” when it comes to healthcare and over the last 90 years has grown from an initial 200-bed hospital to a world class medical facility with over 2,000 beds.
That makes it Africa’s third largest hospital. It is also the leading national referral centre in Ghana.
“Korle Bu, which means ‘the valley of the Korle lagoon’, was established as a general Hospital to address the health needs of the indigenous people under Sir Gordon Guggisberg’s administration, the then governor of the gold Coast,” the hospital’s website says. “Population growth and the proven efficacy of hospital-based treatment caused a rise in hospital attendance in Korle Bu. By 1953, demand for the hospital’s services had escalated so high that the government was compelled to set up a task force to study the situation and make recommendations for the expansion of the hospital. The government accepted and implemented the recommendations of the task force which resulted in the construction of new structures, such as the maternity, medical, Surgical and Child Health Blocks. this increased the hospital’s bed capacity to 1200,” it adds.
Indeed, the hospital has changed considerably over the years and gained teaching hospital status in 1962, when the University of Ghana Medical School (UGMS) was established “for the training of medical doctors.” the UGMS and five other constituent schools are grouped under the College of Health Sciences to train an array of health professionals. All the institutions of the College however, undertake their clinical training and research in Korle Bu.
“At the moment, the Hospital has 2,000 beds and 17 clinical and diagnostic Departments/Units,” Korle Bu’s website says. It has an average daily attendance of 1,500 patients and about 250 patient admissions.
“Clinical and diagnostic departments of the hospital include Medicine, Child Health, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Pathology, Laboratories, Radiology, Anaesthesia, Surgery, Polyclinic, Accident Centre and the Surgical/Medical Emergency as well as Pharmacy,” its website adds. “Other Departments include, Pharmacy, Finance, Engineering, and General Administration.”
The Hospital also provides sophisticated and scientific investigative procedures and specialisation in fields such as Neuro-surgery, Dentistry, Eye, ENT, Renal, Orthopaedics, Oncology, Dermatology, Cardiothoracic, Radiotherapy, Radio diagnosis, Paediatric Surgery and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery and Burns.
The Reconstructive Plastic Surgery and Burn Centre, the National Cardiothoracic Centre and the National Centre for Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine in particular also draw a sizeable number of their clientele from neighbouring countries such as Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Togo.
“Korle Bu Teaching Hospital continues to blaze the trail when it comes to the introduction of specialised services,” its website says. “It recently carried out the first ever kidney transplant in Ghana. It is one of the few hospitals in Africa where DNA investigations are carried out. Other specialised services the Hospital provides include brachytherapy intervention for the treatment of prostate cancer and keyhole surgeries. Plans are underway to venture into molecular testing and employ the use of cutting edge technology. All these are part of the grand plan to offer a wider spectrum of specialist care to position Ghana as the hub of health tourism within the West Africa Sub region.”
Korle Bu’s cancer ward, which is amongst the best in West Africa, recently underwent a radical facelift with help from Vodafone Ghana.
The new “Herbert Osei Baidoo Cancer Ward” was established as a lasting legacy to Herbert Osei Baidoo, a member of the Vodafone board, who passed away last year and it uses “21st Century technology to enhance the treatment of cancer, which is one of the leading causes of death in Ghana and the leading cause of death worldwide according to the World Health Organisation,” Korle Bu says.
The 650-square-foot ward is located on the second floor of the Surgical Department and was in need of renovation to “provide the necessary standard of care for patients with cancer”.
It now has a brand new chemotherapy suite with reclining armchairs and entertainment; a new cytotoxic room, where pharmacists can mix and store toxic drugs safely; an increased and equal number of beds for male and female patients; new washrooms with en suite facilities; air conditioning throughout the ward; and a new waiting room for visitors and families.
“In a further move to enhance the treatment and recovery of patients, Vodafone and RLG have supplied handsets and airtime, that will be given to doctors, nurses and patients, to help them stay in touch and ensure that care plans are being followed,” Korle Bu said in a statement. “Vodafone has also implemented a maintenance programme with Korle Bu to ensure the long-term sustainability of the ward.”
Kyle Whitehill, CEO of Vodafone Ghana said: “We demonstrated our passion for healthcare with the launch of our award winning TV programme Healthline, which is all about empowering Ghanaians to take control of their health. Transforming this ward into a world-class cancer treatment facility is our way of contributing towards the delivery of improved health care for Ghanaians.”
Vodafone has also completely transformed the Children’s Cancer Unit. “We are absolutely delighted and proud to have such world-class facilities in our hospital. The entire team is excited about continuing to provide improved standards of care to cancer patients in Ghana,” said Professor Afua Hesse, CEO of Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.
Ghana has one of the best healthcare systems in Africa but there is always room for improvement. The government is looking at raising sector spending and reforming the medical system as it aims to honour the Abuja Declaration pledge and achieve the UN’s Millennium Development Goals and ensuring universal access to basic healthcare.
To learn more about the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital visit www.kbth.gov.gh.