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Professor of Surgery, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University for Development Studies, Dr Stephen Tabiri, has advised managers of hospitals to develop robust recovery plans as they envisage the post-coronavirus period.
The Surgeon also called on the Government to include hospitals in its 600 million Ghana cedis stimulus package to ease the debilitating impact of the coronavirus on the country’s health facilities.
Professor Tabiri, who is also a Consultant General Surgeon at the Tamale Teaching Hospital, made the call in a publication in the British Journal of Surgery.
In Ghana, hospitals have cancelled most elective surgeries in 12 weeks, and it is estimated that this will result in 14,549 cancelled surgeries, including 1,405 cancer procedures.
“Elective operations have been cancelled in all hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemics across the nation. This has increased disease burden among citizens,” Prof Tabiri said.
The Professor, who also led a CovidSurg Collaborative project in Ghana added, “these cancellations will create a backlog that will need to be cleared after the COVID-19 disruption ends.”
If after the disruption ends, he said, the hospitals increased the number of surgeries performed each week by 20 per cent compared to pre-pandemic activity, it will take 11 months, one week (45 weeks) to clear the backlog.
“Each additional week of disruption will lead to the cancellation of extra 1,212 surgeries, significantly extending the period it will take to clear the backlog,” he stated.
Professor Tabiri further observed that most cancer patients would deteriorate well before the pandemic was over, and hospitals would also lose significant income due to the cancellation of surgeries to support the wider hospital response to COVID-19.
“These cancellations will place a heavy burden on the hospitals, patients and society at large,” he said and urged hospital managers to develop a robust recovery plan well in advance of the day the pandemic would be declared over.
He also said, “It is incumbent on policymakers in Ghana to include the hospitals in the proposed stimulus financial package for the hospitals.”
Professor Francis Atindaana Abantanga, Dean of School of Medicine and Health Sciences at UDS, Tamale, who was part of the CovidSurg Collaborative project, said “clearing the backlog of surgeries after COVID-19 pandemic will require all stakeholders working together to support patients and healthcare facilities.”
The two professors cautioned Ghana and the world to prepare themselves and adopt policies that would enable them to handle the huge backlog of surgeries when the impact of COVID 19 declines.
“In Ghana, the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service should consider drawing up a comprehensive plan to handle post-COVID-19 surgeries,” they stated.
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