Once again Ghana woke up to a sad news of the passing on of a 70-year-old Ghanaian after an inability to admit him in seven hospitals in Accra for reason of “no bed”. This is indeed an unfortunate occurrence hence I extend my condolence to the breathed family for their loss. Unfortunately, several Ghanaians have narrated their ordeal on this phenomenon of “no-bed” in some hospitals in Ghana including the Hon. Member of Parliament for Timpani who equally narrated the circumstances under which his beloved wife died because of same.
Sincerely, the “no-bed syndrome” is unacceptable and unfortunate hence should not be allowed to linger in our Health service delivery systems. The unfortunate death of the 70-year-old has triggered policymakers to take steps to perform an exploratory fact-finding mission on the subject of “no-bed” in hospitals.
The first was the Director General of Ghana health services Dr. Anthony Asare (GHS) who tasked a committee to look into the matter and deliver a report within 10 days.
The second was the directive from the speaker of the Ghanaian Parliament asking for Criminalization of no-bed syndrome and again asking the Committee on Health in Parliament to explore laws that will criminalize the “no bed syndrome”.
The reaction of policymakers and some individuals to this issue may sound prompt and superb, but I think that we are pressing the wrong button. Fact is, Nurses and Doctors do not manufacture beds, and neither do they procure or establish health Institutions. It is solely the responsibility of Government to do so. Why are we pretending as a country not to know the causes of the “no-bed syndrome”. According to Experts, a syndrome is a problem or phenomenon which cause cannot be understood. In this case, the actual cause is known, only that we are being palliative or better still- economic with the truth. I may admit some level of negligence of some health workers in some hospitals, however, a chunk of the blame should be put to the doorstep of government for failing to provide healthcare facilities that are commensurate with the population of growth of the country. We shouldn’t expect almost the same number of health facilities and health workers to be able to take care of a population that grows in hundreds each day.
Successive governments have done their bid to augment the existing health facilities and health workers in this country by establishing more hospitals and increasing intake into health training institutions respectively. These interventions have yielded the establishment hospitals like University of Ghana Medical Center and the increase in the number of graduate health professional.
Just as we know we have a deficit in terms of health facilities, we should be seen as a country to as a matter of urgency prioritize health over any other business. Unfortunately, we are as usual playing partisan politics with it. Why should a health edifice like University of Ghana Medical Center not operating simply because of some excuse or the other? Why should the Municipal Chief Executive of Sagnarigu Municipality direct a closure of CHPS-compounds after an opposition MP (Hon. Alhassan Suhuyini-Tamale North Constituency) donated medical equipment to those facilities simply because she wants to inaugurate those CHPS-compounds that were commissioned by the previous government? Why should it be so easy to direct health workers not to turn Patients away when we can’t tell the government to establish more facilities, commission the completed and employ the teaming graduate healthcare professionals who are eager to deliver healthcare services? The directive to criminalize “no-bed” in hospitals in Ghana can only be a good one if such a directive is directed at the one responsible for providing the beds — in this case, government.
As a student of public health, am worried that if hospitals can not adhere to their respective capacities or bed occupancy, then we are predisposing the whole population to communicable diseases when they occur. Imagine a hospital that has admitted patients on the floor; how can the Nurses and Doctors work with their trollies? How can essential medical equipment like suctioning machines, oxygen cylinders be moved around the wards to patients who need them? How can proper cleaning of the wards be done.? How can we maintain an effective infection prevention and control practices?
It is not for fun that hospital beds are designed with special accessories that allow for adjustments or manipulations such raising the head-end of the bed, lowering or raising the foot end of the bed, side rails etc. These engineering are to help in caring for patients who need a particular type of bed at a particular time. In short, every patient has a particular type of bed he should be nursed on. It is further true that a lot of our Nurses and Doctors have developed occupational health conditions like waist and spinal defect because of nursing their cherished patients on the floor. The floor as some of the directives may be suggesting is simply not an option.