Expansion of UGMC puts Ghana’s Medical Tourism Hub agenda on course

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Ghana’s quest to become a major medical tourism center in the West African sub-region has been given a further boost as it prepares to expand the University of Ghana Medical Center (UGMC) to serve as a Centre for medical tourism for those in need of medical services within the sub-region and beyond for super tertiary care and specialties.

This comes some few months after the Director General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Anthony Nsia-Asare, in February 2018, inaugurated a five member committee in Accra to undertake needs assessment of all health facilities as part of preparations to begin medical health tourism in the country in response to a vision expressed by the President Akufo-Addo led government.

The Director General also at the same forum disclosed that the Greater Accra Regional Hospital, popularly known as the Ridge Hospital, had already been earmarked by the Ghana Health Service to be used as a medical tourism facility. And not too long ago, the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital also outlined a plan of action for the country’s premier hospital to become a center for medical tourism in Africa.

Medical Tourism, according to Wikipedia, refers to people traveling to a country other than their own to obtain medical treatment. In the past this usually referred to those who traveled from less developed countries to major medical centers in highly developed countries for treatments unavailable at home.

However, in recent years it may equally refer to those from developed countries who travel to developing countries for lower priced medical treatments. It is also believed that the motivation may also be for medical services unavailable or illegal in the home country of tourists.

In order for the vision to materialize, the Parliament of Ghana on Monday, the 16th of July 2018, approved an Export Credit facility Agreement and a tied Commercial Facility Agreement totaling Forty-Seven Million, One Hundred and Sixty Three Thousand Euros (47,163,000 Euros) from BANK HAPOALIM B.M for the phase two of the project at the Legon Hospital in Accra.

The 617-bed capacity teaching and quaternary level hospital located within the University of Ghana, was commenced with the establishment of the University of Ghana Medical Centre in 2012, backed by a cabinet approval.

Following that, a Commercial Contract was signed between the Ministry of Health on behalf of the Government of Ghana and Messrs Engineering Development Consultants (EDC) Limited of Israel at a contract cost of One Hundred and Eighty-Four Million, Seven Hundred and Forty Thousand and One United States Dollars (US$184,740,001).

According to a Finance Committee Report presented to Parliament by the Committee Chairman, Dr. Mark Assibey-Yeboah, Phase one of the Medical Center was practically completed in 2016 at a cost of US$217 Million, comprising construction cost of US$184,784,001 and financing cost of US$32.26 Million.

The Phase II of the project which is to be funded under these Agreements is focused on the provision of strategic income generating services for short, medium and long-term sustainability of the Hospital including a technical assistance package.

According to the Finance Committee, the Phase II is a necessary complement to the phase I and it targets new clinical services and medical interventions that will give the UGMC a competitive edge over others in Ghana as well as the sub-region.

“The credit facilities for phase II are both critical and complementary in mobilizing additional resources to address the critical gaps in the operations and sustainability of the UGMC and for the completion of the UGMC project.

“Presently, additional medical facilities and specialized medical departments and services are needed for the attainment of international accreditation standards of a quaternary level hospital, as well as to enhance the sustainability and operational effectiveness of the Hospital.” It said.

The objective of the project is to establish a state-of-the-art training facility for medical education (UGMC) that will facilitate the relocation and accommodation of all institutions of the College of Health Sciences to the University of Ghana, Legon campus to serve as a nerve center of the proposed Medical Village.

The Center is to function locally as a referral hospital and operate at a specialized level to attract clientele beyond the borders of Ghana to take advantage of the specialties offered in country which is expected to be first class in the sub-region.

As to when the Hospital will commence operations, the Chairman of the Committee of Finance, Dr. Assibey-Yeboah told parliament that, the Minister for Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu informed his committee that the Ministry has put in place firm plans to have the hospital opened for commencement of operations as soon as practicable.

He said,”the Minister explained that the Hospital will only achieve full operation by the end of November, 2018 as there was still some more work needed to be done under the second phase in order to achieve full operationalization.”

Source: Clement Akoloh || afriwakeradio.com


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