President John Mahama on Wednesday inaugurated the first phase of a new 650-bed University of Ghana Medical Centre at Legon in Accra.
Said to be comparable to none in West Africa, the $271 million Medical Centre is a referral facility.
The facility comprises eight separate buildings and houses, different specialised areas such as emergency, Imaging, operating theatres, laboratories and a computer room.
It will also have maternity and paediatric clinics, an orthopaedic centre, an in-patient medical training facility, staff accommodation and a maintenance and logistics building.
The centre will provide specialists care in areas, including urology, ophthalmology, ear, nose and throat, cardiology, dermatology, neurology and interventional radiology (cancers).
It also has facilities for cancer management, a medical hotel where clients could live and consult specialists, in addition to assisted reproductive technology, to provide fertility solutions as well as a helipad that will allow emergency cases to be airlifted to the centre.
Before unveiling a plaque to open the hospital, President Mahama said the facility would not only make Ghana a centre for medical tourism but also reduce cases of Ghanaians travelling abroad to seek medical attention.
“It is a major milestone as the country in its quest to improve quality healthcare availability to Ghanaians. The completion is a dream come true. Residents within the catchment area of the university and even beyond Ghana will have access to a first class medical facility, “he stated.
President Mahama paid homage to his predecessor, President J.E.A Mills, who cut the sod for the construction of the centre on March 12, 2011.
He said initially the intention was to move the University of Ghana Medical School from Korle Bu to the centre but logistical constraints and other challenges had made it not feasible immediately.
However, the President said high specialised training offered by the medical school and specialised services would take place at the new hospital while part of the medical school remained at Korle Bu.
“This will create a symbiotic relationship between the hospital and the centre,” he added.
The centre also hosts a national medical training and simulation centre which, President Mahama said, would be used in training health professionals.
“This would make the University of Ghana Medical Centre one of the best centres of excellence on the African continent. The centre is equipped with the most modern up-to date medical gadgets capable of simulating disease conditions to enable our professionals to have a comprehensive hands-on training experience on how to manage such conditions.”
With the second phase still on the table, President Mahama was optimistic that the President-elect, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, would “take special interest in the work done here to make this project operational in the shortest possible time.”
The entire project, he said, was based on investment and business-model of making the centre self-financing within five years and become autonomous.
Undertaken by Messrs Engineering and Development Consultants Limited, with medical consultation provided by the Sheba Medical Centre of Israel, the centre is expected to provide cutting-edge medical training and research for various health professionals.
As part of the project, a number of Ghanaian health professionals, including doctors, nurses and pharmacists have undergone short-term hands-on training at the Sheba Medical Centre and they are expected to constitute a critical mass of staff to be engaged to run the hospital.
In that regard, the Israeli Ambassador to Ghana observed that equipment or facilities did not make hospitals but rather skilled healthcare personnel.
He gave an assurance that Israel would continue to provide training for the personnel to be engaged for the centre.
The one-stop medical facility, in addition to offering medical training and research opportunities for medical professionals in the country, would provide sub-specialist services.
The specialist services will be in areas such as surgery, radiology, internal medicine, pharmacy, paediatrics, medical education, anaesthesia, gynaecology, accident and emergency services.
That, the Minister of Health, Mr Alex Segbefia, said, positioned the hospital as one that could be compared with any medical facility around the world.
The Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, while applauding the strides, said there were still challenges that needed to be addressed before the facility could become operational.
These challenges, which, he said, needed urgent government action, included approval for phase two of the project, approval of the 2017 budget of the centre, approval of request for financial clearance by the Ministry of Finance for staff recruitment and approval for seed capital for the purchase of drugs and non-drug consumable.
The second phase of the project will commence after the hospital begins operations.
That phase will include the addition of 400 beds, a modern community morgue, heart, cancer and rehabilitation centres, as well as a dialysis unit.