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General News of Thursday, 19 August 2021

Source: classfmonline.com

Agenda 111: GHS1.4bn cost slashed to GHS779m – Minority doubts project's feasibility

The minority in Parliament The minority in Parliament

The Minority in Parliament has demanded clarity from the Akufo-Addo government in connection with some GHS636 million it claims has already been allocated to the Agenda 111 project even before it was launched on Tuesday, 17 August 2021.

In a statement, the Minority caucus claims some GHS600 million had already been allocated to the project, which is meant to build 111 major hospitals across the country.

It also purported that an additional GHS36 million was allocated to it per the 2021 mid-year budget review.

“We are of the view that barring corruption, it is highly untenable for the government to spend such a colossal sum on a project, for which we are told no mobilisation will be paid to contractors before the commencement of works”, the Minority said.

“Interestingly”, the Minority noted, “although an allocation of GHS1,476 million was made for the provision of Health Infrastructure or Agenda 111 projects, the amount has been slashed by almost half to the current allocation of GHS779 million”.

“How government expects to construct 101 district hospitals from GHS779 million is a puzzle”, the caucus said, adding: “We are raising issues of funding because of the plethora of abandoned and in some cases never-ending health projects littered across the country”.

The Minority said its doubts about the government’s commitment to implementing Agenda 111 and also protecting the public purse will remain until its concerns are addressed.

The president, on Tuesday, 17 August 2021, cut the sod for the commencement of the Agenda 111 project, which he has described as the biggest-ever investment in the nation’s healthcare sector.

The project will involve the construction of (101) district hospitals, the construction of seven (7) Regional Hospitals for the new regions, including a new one for the Western Region, the construction of two (2) new psychiatric hospitals for the Middle Belt and Northern Belt, respectively, and the rehabilitation of the Effia-Nkwanta Hospital in the Western Region

Addressing the gathering at Trede, in the Atwima Kwanwoma District of the Ashanti Region, President Akufo-Addo indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic did not only disrupt lives and livelihoods, but also exposed the deficiencies of the nation’s healthcare system, because of years of under-investment and neglect.

With eighty-eight (88) out of the one hundred and one (101) sites identified for the commencement of work on the construction of the district hospitals, he assured that the acquisition of the remaining thirteen (13) sites will be completed shortly for work to begin.

“Each hospital is being constructed at a cost of US$16.88 million, that is US$12.88 million for construction and US$4 million for medical equipment. All the hospitals are to be completed in eighteen (18) months. Work will commence on the regional and other hospitals in the latter part of the year,” he assured.

These modern, fully equipped state-of-the-art hospitals, according to the president, will have facilities for outpatient services, including consultation facilities for medical and surgical cases, ophthalmology and dental services, a physiotherapy unit, maternal and child health unit, public health unit, four (4) state-of-the-art surgical theatres for maternity, obstetrics & gynaecology, accident & emergency, and for general surgery and imaging facilities.

“In addition, each hospital will have the full complement of male, female, paediatric and isolation wards. Provision has made for support facilities, which will include a kitchen, laundry, sterilisation department, mortuary, energy centre, maintenance department, and staff accommodation for doctors, nurses and other health workers,” he said.

Describing Agenda 111 as a “Ghana First” agenda, which has been carefully thought through to inspire activity and growth in various sectors of the economy, and help also bring jobs to the youth, the President explained that a consortium, comprising some twenty (20) Ghanaian consulting firms, made up of architects, civil, structural, electrical and mechanical engineers, quantity surveyors, bio-medical engineers, and other technical teams, have designed these hospitals to reflect the nation’s unique domestic requirements

“They will also supervise the construction of these hospitals, which will be built by some two hundred and fifty (250) domestic contractors, and maintained by domestic facility management professionals, as part of the government’s policy of developing domestic capability in the building and construction sectors of the economy. This will, undoubtedly, help retain most of the money in the country, to engender further investment in the economy,” he added.

With all hospitals being of a standard design, the president noted that the execution of Agenda III will require significant domestic inputs, which will give impetus to private sector investments into the “One-District-One-Factory” policy.

Once completed, the president told the gathering at Trede that it will provide job opportunities for some twenty thousand (20,000) health professionals, and, thus, enable the Ministry of Health recruit more doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other health professionals.

“In addition to these, there will be many indirect jobs for residents in the local economy, for example, for persons who will sell food, drinks, hospital consumables to the hospital, its staff, patients and visitors. I am confident that this important investment will have a positive impact on many lives and livelihoods in the respective communities,” he added.

West Africa’s Medical Hub

Beyond the building of these new healthcare facilities, President Akufo-Addo indicated that his vision is to help make Ghana the Centre of Excellence for Medical Care in West Africa by 2030, leveraging on Ghana’s favourable status in the Region as the most peaceful country in West Africa, a beacon of democracy on the continent, and a land of opportunities.

“This, we will achieve, by investing more in the development of our healthcare infrastructure, mapping our regional health facilities to specialisations, as well as upgrading selected facilities in our regional and teaching hospitals into world-class standards. India and South Africa have shown the way in this regard,” he stressed.

To this end, President Akufo-Addo explained that, during his first term in office, a programme to revitalise health care infrastructure in Ghana’s premier hospitals was put in place.

“Investments were made at the Korlebu Teaching Hospital in Accra to build a new four hundred-bed Maternity and Gynaecology Block, and a new one hundred-bed Urology and Nephrology Centre of Excellence. The government will build on this foundation, and include two additional projects, currently in the planning stage, namely, the Trauma and Acute Pain Centre and a new Surgical Services Block with modern in-patient facilities. These major investments in the Korlebu Teaching Hospital will contribute to its transformation into a modern world-class teaching hospital,” he said.

The President continued, “Further investments are being made at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, beginning with the new five hundred and fifty (550) bed Maternity and Children Block. Specialised centres for infectious diseases, orthopaedics, cancer treatment, cardiovascular health, specialist eyecare, amongst others, will be assigned to some of the Regional Hospitals, including those to be constructed under Agenda 111.”

Whilst upgrading these facilities, he stated that Government will invest in medical education and training of the nation’s health personnel, including expanding the use of IT for medical diagnosis and treatment in the Agenda 111 healthcare facilities being developed.

This network of primary, secondary and tertiary health facilities, he stressed, will form the backbone of the vision to make Ghana the leading health care destination in West Africa.

“It is envisioned, under a public-private partnership, that the Ghana Medical Corps, a volunteer corps of medical specialists which will tap into the skills and resources of Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians locally and abroad, using IT and telemedicine to support the delivery of health care and training, will be established by 2023. This will offer, in particular, to Ghanaian medical experts resident outside Ghana, the opportunity to give back to their motherland in ways that will support and expand healthcare delivery,” he added.

All these programmes, collectively, according to the President, will position Ghana as a leading medical travel destination in West Africa, with the potential to add some two billion dollars (US$2billion) to the nation’s GDP by 2030, and, in the process, create some fifty thousand (50,000) jobs in the sector.

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