GHANA – A new €55 million municipal trauma and accident hospital in the town of Obuasi, Ghana, has become one of the multiple new initiatives transforming the face of Ghana’s healthcare system.

Ghana’s breakneck development of new medical facilities like the Obuasi hospital comes at an opportune time.

While the country has lost a relatively small number of people to Covid-19, the immense additional pressure placed on health services throughout the pandemic has revealed substantial cracks in the public health system.

The silver lining is that new healthcare initiatives across the country are making this a banner year for public health, not only improving care for Ghanaian civilians but creating the potential for health tourism from the rest of West Africa.

The wheels of progress on Ghanaian public healthcare may be turning rapidly, but it wasn’t always that way. Work ground to a standstill on a crucial regional hospital in southern Bekwai in 2010, when Ghana’s Ministry of Health ran out of funds.

After years of deadlock, French infrastructure company Ellipse Projects intervened in 2018 to restructure the project’s funding.

€23 million in new financing allowed for the completion of the 120-bed facility, and the building now offers first aid, gynecology, obstetrics, pediatrics, and surgery to the local population, amongst other services.

Last month, Ellipse Projects built on their earlier success, beginning construction on a 285-bed regional hospital in the eastern region of Koforidua that can eventually be increased to 600 in a second phase. The €70 million contract also includes a medical training center and staff accommodations.

Although Covid-19 delayed construction by a year, the new hospital is set to be delivered within 36 months, shoring up the area’s standards of medical care and reducing the level of healthcare inequality between Ghana’s provincial communities and the capital.

The steady rollout of these healthcare facilities is driving Ghana’s progress towards the UN’s third Sustainable Development Goal: “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

Moving forward, Ghana will be able to offer life-saving care to broad new sections of the national population, reduce the prevalence of endemic diseases such as malaria and HIV, and better prepare for future pandemics.

The alleviation of health issues will have a direct impact on the country’s finances, too, since research from the McKinsey Global Institute has determined that poor health decreases global GDP by 15% every year.

Ghana’s foregrounding of healthcare funding is a strong start, but there is still much work to be done to allow access to all—not least because the country has pledged to provide universal health coverage by 2030.

As the current chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Ghana’s president Akufo-Addo’s emphasis on expanding healthcare infrastructure sends a strong signal to the rest of the region as well.

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