Regional Referral Hospital lacks pharmacists
By William N-lanjerborr Jalulah
Human Resource problems continue to cause congestion and hinder health care delivery at the Upper East Regional Referral Hospital in Bolgatanga. For the past one month, the Pharmacy Unit at the Out-Patient Department (OPD) has always been congested due to the insufficient number of pharmacists.
Though the regional referral hospital receives referral cases from the district hospitals and health centres in the region, it also records its own fresh cases. This situation requires adequate human resources and logistics to be able to respond to the health needs of the populace.
But, unfortunately, administrators of the hospital say some key staff like pharmacists have left for further studies, leaving only two at post. The two pharmacists are compelled to work day and night, thus forfeiting their off days.
In spite of their commitment to forfeiting their off days and serve the people, they are still unable to dispense their services satisfactorily, because they cannot serve out-patients and in-patients at the same time, without one witnessing an overwhelmed OPD.
A visit to the Out-Patient Department by this reporter revealed that the place was congested. At the time of his visit, only one pharmacist was on duty, supported by two pharmacist technicians, who were serving clients.
Another major challenge confronting the hospital is the deplorable nature of the infrastructure, especially the in-patient setting, which is now deteriorating. In spite of these challenges, the hospital continues to record high numbers of patients, especially between late July and October each year.
In order to address the infrastructure problems of the hospital, plans are far advanced for the reconstruction of the old OPD to a model one. The architectural plan portraying how the hospital would look like after the planned reconstruction is done is on a giant billboard at vantage points in the municipality.
In an interview with the Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. Peter, he said the number of doctors and other key health staff like pharmacists had not seen any significant improvement, but had rather dwindled, because some of the pharmacists, who have worked for a number of years, had to go for further studies. Meanwhile, their vacancies have not been filled.
Dr. Baffoe said; “You realise that almost for the past one month, our pharmacy has been much congested as compared to how it used to be. This is due to the fact that we have lost some key staff over there. We are hoping that postings will be made, so that we get some new staff to augment what we have over there, other than that, those that are there are really overwhelmed by the number of patients that they have to serve.”
According to the Medical Director, even though the number of midwives at the maternity ward had improved over the last few years, because there was a midwifery training school in Bolgatanga, the required number of midwives had not been met.
He also lamented over the deplorable nature of the infrastructure, but was quick to add that the situation was being confronted as the reconstruction of the old OPD is far advanced.
Even in the wake of these challenges, some non-profit making organisations/unions and corporate bodies continue to donate vital assorted medical equipment and consumables to the hospital.
The latest of such unions, and perhaps the one with the largest donations, was the donation of a forty-footer container of medical equipment by the Ghana Northern Union of Chicago and Children of Abraham, both in the USA.
Presenting the equipment to the Deputy Regional Director of Health in charge of the public, Dr. James Akpablie, Alhaji Alidu Fuseini, a member of the Ghana Northern Union of Chicago disclosed that the equipment was estimated at $100 million.
Alhaji Fuseini said last year they got an ambulance from the Mayor of Chicago, which they donated to the Tamale Teaching Hospital.
A few among the many equipment included sixteen electric beds, twenty bed sheets and a dialysis machine.
Dr. Akpablie said though the region has had a level of consistent supply of equipment and consumables for some time now, hospitals and health facilities in the region still lacked beds to accommodate in-patients.
He noted that some of the equipment were not available, because there were no trained staff or specialists to handle them, especially the dialysis machine, which the region does not have a single trained staff to handle.
According him, the donation of the equipment had given the region the opportunity to send some staff to the Tamale Teaching Hospital or down south for specialised training.
Though the regional referral hospital is expected to be the larger beneficiary of the items, Dr. Akpablie said some of the equipment would be sent to other districts and sub-districts in the region to improve the quality of health care delivery.
Dr. Akpablie observed that the shortage of key staff like doctors and pharmacists was a very serious problem facing the region. He recalled that recently, about eight doctors were posted to the region, but out the number, only three came to meet with the Regional Health Director, but were yet to report, while the rest had not shown any interest in accepting the posting.
He was hopeful that with the donation of the advanced equipment, it would contribute to enticing more specialist health professionals, because they would now have the needed tools to work with, as these items would supplement the already existing ones.
He charged the managers of the hospitals and health facilities in the region to ensure that the items were put to good use, and not mismanaged by staff. This way, they would have been serving the purpose for which they were donated.
He appealed to the donors to consider supporting health professionals in the region to go for training in the use of some of the equipment that were donated to enhance quality health care delivery.
Still on health, the Upper East Regional Minister, Mark Woyongo, on Monday, launched a mass vaccination against Meningococcal Meningitis ‘A’. The ten-day campaign began on Tuesday October 9, 2012, and is expected to end on October 18, 2012.
The population targeted is those from the ages of one to twenty-nine years, which is estimated to be about 70% of the total population of the region.
The vaccination is limited to the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions, because the three regions lie in the meningitis belt.
Mr. Woyongo recalled how the outbreak of the disease claimed 1,356 lives in 1996 and 1997 in the region, and gave the assurance that the government would continue to provide financial, human and infrastructural support, including vaccines and the necessary logistics, to make the dream of controlling preventable deaths in the region a reality.
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