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Regional News of Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Huge amounts spent on fuel threatening continuous operations of Krobo Health facilities

Hospitals rely on power plants to function Hospitals rely on power plants to function

Correspondence from Eastern Region

Hospitals and other health facilities in the Yilo and Lower Manya Krobo Municipalities in the Eastern Region may be forced to shut down soon if nothing was done to address the current power outage in the area.

Authorities of the facilities say they're forced to spend tens of thousands of cedis daily on fuel to power their generator sets to enable them to run the facilities.

Speaking in an interview with GhanaWeb, Yilo Krobo Municipal Director of Health Services, Dr. Irina Offei and medical superintendent of the St Martin's de Porres hospital at Agomanya, Dr. Stephen Kusi both asserted that the eventual shut down of the medical facilities was imminent in the face of the current power outage which continues to draw a chunk of the accrued internally generated funds (UGF) of the facilities.

The medical institutions, since July 27, 2022, are, facing the wrath of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) against its customers in the Krobo area following the rollout of the prepaid meters.

While St. Martin de Porres hospital is spending about five thousand cedis on fuel in a day, the Atua government hospital is said to be spending between Ghc3.000 and Ghc4000 with the Somanya District hospital and polyclinic also forced to buy GHC3000 and between GhC500 and GHC700 respectively of fuel in a day to stay in operations.

Additionally, the polyclinic which does not own a generator spends an extra GHC200 each day to rent one.

To cut down costs, the facilities have adjusted to the situation by reducing the number of hours the generators are run.

The situation they contend could affect the operations of the health providers if nothing was done to address it immediately.

Dr. Irina Offei said the Yilo Krobo District hospital for instance was no longer receiving new admissions.

"Yilo Krobo District hospital, they stopped admissions on Friday, they run outpatients services so if the patient needs admission then the patient is referred to the facility of his choice," she said.

The Heath Director however fears the facilities could close down if the situation persisted: "If the power is not restored as soon as possible, they may do that (shut down)."

Similarly, Medical Superintendent at St Martin's hospital, Dr. Stephen Kusi said, "the generator which runs 24/7, that is our fear because that is our only source of power. If this generator, an old one, continues to run and it breaks down, that is it, all clinical services would have to come to a stop because everything is digital in the facility".

Information was rife that the hospital together with others in the area had directed families with deceased relatives in various morgues and mortuaries to come for them ahead of the shutting down of the mortuaries but responding to the rumours, the medical superintendent allayed the fears of the public, stressing that though the generator no longer ran for twenty-four hours, embalming the bodies ensured that they were well preserved.

"We haven't put out any communique to that effect and I think people should know and understand that because of the processes of embalming of bodies in spite of the outage, the bodies are very well preserved... so there's no cause for alarm at all," he assured.

The closing down of the hospital would mean some 350 patients who report at the OPD on a daily basis, sixty to eighty pregnant women who report for anti-natal services, and some fifteen to twenty patients who're admitted each day would no longer be able to access health services at the hospital.

Though the old standby generator serves as a shoulder for the hospital to lean on in times like this, the worst fear of management is its eventual breakdown.

"Now if the facility should shut down, all these people would have to be turned away," said the administrator. "I think we'll lose a lot of lives because the social capital we have with the people means that they prefer us to our sister facilities."

He added that the situation was adversely affecting the psyche of the staff of the hospital and expressed regret that the ECG had not communicated in any way to the health providers concerning the current outage to help them towards their planning.

"Unfortunately, we haven't had any direct information from our power provider that this is the situation, this is how long it's going to take and these are the steps that you need to take, I think that is what worries us the most because you cannot do any planning when you do not have any information," he complained and added that previous assurances to restore power were not fulfilled.

Appealing for a resolution to the impasse, Dr. Stephen Kusi said, "I think this situation has gone on for a very long time and I believe that opinion leaders in the community, we have politicians and as a facility, our mandate is mainly to take care of the sick that come to us so we'll only plead with the powers that be that is the ECG, politicians, members of parliament to come together and restore power for us...it isn't right that doing this work, we go through this hardship".

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