Policy analyst at the Centre for Development and Policy Advocacy, Ziblim Alhassan, has expressed disappointment over President Akufo-Addo’s failure to fulfil his promise of building 88 district hospitals across the country within a year to help manage Ghana’s COVID-19 situation.
President Akufo-Addo, in his 8th televised address to the nation on measures to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic on Sunday, 26 April 2020 stated: “We will, this year, begin constructing eighty-eight (88) hospitals in the districts without hospitals.
“It will mean ten (10) in Ashanti, nine (9) in Volta, nine (9) in Central, eight (8) in Eastern, seven (7) in Greater Accra , seven (7) in Upper East, five (5) in Northern, five (5) in Oti, five (5) in Upper West, five (5) in Bono, four (4) in Western North, four (4) in Western, three (3) in Ahafo, three (3) in Savannah, two(2) in Bono East and two(2) in North East region”.
Mr Alhassan who had earlier expressed his sentiments on the issue with foreign media network, Deutsche Welle, told Kwabena Bobie-Ansah on Accra100.5FM’s ‘The Citizen’ show on Monday, 18 January, 2021 that: “Obviously, I think that the President has failed the people of Ghana in the first place he was not under any compulsion to promise to do this in one year. Particularly, if you look at the huge financial expenditure in the fight against COVID.
He continued: “And my problem was that much of the money that was taken to fight COVID was being spent on consumption and little was done to invest the money in building a resilient infrastructure that will strengthen the country's ability to fight the pandemic. That was the basis upon which I thought that even though the government was doing well with all the social interventions, there was a missing link in the fight against COVID and here we are. The government realised that there was the need to put the health infrastructure in place but no practical step was taken since April,” Mr Alhassan added.
Mr Ziblim also disclosed that the Department of Biotechnology at the University for Development Studies (UDS) demanded USD50, 000 to build a laboratory that could acquire the necessary logistics to test COVID but could not secure funding for it.
This, he opines, is a good opportunity for building capacity to boost the health infrastructure in the country, while citing the Noguchi Memorial Institute as one of the laboratories borne out of the academic institutions (University of Ghana, Legon) in the country.
He indicated that because the president did not state the source of funding for the projects, “I think it was an empty promise”.
He further noted: “It was a sad propaganda because in the middle of fighting a pandemic, the least you will expect from a president is to promise something that you have no intention to fulfil in a year.
“There was no basis at all to do that and that was a surprise because if you look at the update in which he promised the hospitals, there was no relationship between the hospitals and our fight against COVID. Not at all. And I think during the detailed DW interview, I indicated that I don't know why the President in the process of updating Ghanaians on the progress towards fighting, he will veer into building 88 hospitals in a year when he is not telling us where the money is going to come from,” Mr Ziblim stated.