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General News of Monday, 27 April 2020

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Building 94 hospitals in 1 year practically unrealistic – Prof. Bokpin


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Economic analyst, Prof Godfred Bokpin, has expressed doubt about President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s promise to construct 94 hospitals across the country within a year.

The professor of finance at the University of Ghana explained, that the gravity of negative impact the current global pandemic is having on the country’s economy will make it impossible for the plan to come into fruition.

“Are we in the position to absorb such a massive cost? Particularly from one sector, health? During the pandemic, we were living from hand to mouth and whatever we were collecting by way of tax revenue was essentially just wages and interest payments,” he noted in an interview on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show, Monday.

Prof Bokpin maintained that the plan would be difficult to execute especially with the “international capital market practically on hold”.

During his 8th address on updates of the Coronavirus and measures government had put in place to fight the fast-spreading global pandemic, President Akufo-Addo disclosed on Sunday night that 88 district and 6 regional hospitals would be constructed within a year.

“There are eighty-eight (88) districts in our country without district hospitals; we have six (6) new regions without regional hospitals; we do not have 5 infectious disease control centres dotted across the country, and we do not have enough testing and isolation centres for diseases like COVD-19. We must do something urgently about this. That is why government has decided to undertake a major investment in our healthcare infrastructure, the largest in our history. We will, this year, begin constructing eighty-eight (88) hospitals in the districts without hospitals.”

Breaking down the distribution of the hospitals the president added that “It will mean ten (10) in Ashanti, nine (9) in Volta, nine (9) in Central, eight (8) in Eastern, seven (7) in Greater Accra, seven (7) in Upper East, five (5) in Northern, five (5) in Oti, five (5) in Upper West, five (5) in Bono, four (4) in Western North, four (4) in Western, three (3) in Ahafo, three (3) in Savannah, two (2) in Bono East, and two (2) in North East Regions.”

“Each of them will be a quality, standard-design, one hundred bed hospital, with accommodation for doctors, nurses, and other health workers, and the intention is to complete them within a year.”

Although he commended government for the initiative, the economist stressed implementing it would mean the reduction of critical spending on other sectors of the economy, noting that it would make it daunting.



“Perhaps we may have to do it maybe in phases. Are we going to load all of that onto the public debt stock this year? That is going to be challenging,” he said.

Prof. Bokpin also admonished the Akufo-Addo-led administration to put efforts in finishing off uncompleted hospitals to reduce spending in the face of the shock suffered by the economy.

He noted that it may take over three years to restore the economy to its ‘pre-pandemic’ state.

“We are in a crisis moment and government and the usual discussion of debt to GDP ratio may not carry much economic value. Maybe thinking of taking advantage of that and ignore the usual fiscal discipline, financing arrangement,” the Professor said.

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