Former President John Dramani Mahama has said that the main intent of establishing the over $184 million University of Ghana Medical Centre was not only to buttress the health care system in the country but also to put an end to the trend of top political officials travelling abroad to seek medical care.
He said his government at the time sent some health professionals to Israel to receive training on how to operationalize the health facility but no sense has been made out of his efforts since he left office in 2017.
According to him, the 650-bed capacity facility was designed to undertake diverse medical treatment and research but the Akufo-Addo government who subsequently succeeded him fraught the progress with “fruitless value for money audits”.
John Mahama in a live digital conversation said he had expected the Akufo-Addo-led administration to swiftly move to operationalize and complete other phases of the hospital but intangible reasons were given instead.
While responding to a suggestion to make Ghana a health care centre in Africa to promote tourism in the country, the former president said “…Indeed this was the intention of setting up the University of Ghana Medical Centre. It was supposed to improve the health care of Ghanaians but at the same time it was meant to the centre of excellence in Africa so that people who needed specialized health services could come from our neighbouring countries to have treatment…”
He added, “It was also meant to stop the practice where top government of Ghana officials had to go outside the country in order to receive medical treatment. Those medical services would be available locally and so it would not be necessary for the president or ministers or other high public officials to go abroad for medical treatment…”
The former president said but for the outbreak of the Coronavirus, no substantive reasons would have been given for the operationalization and expansion of the facility, together with most of his uncompleted health projects across the country.
Meanwhile, Ghanaians have over the years battled with coming to terms with the trend of public officials abandoning health projects in the country yet spend thousands of cedis to seek medical care outside the country.
Public officials together with their relatives are usually flown to countries like South Africa, the United States of America and the United Kingdom to seek specialized health treatment including childbirth.