The management of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) says it will not take referrals from other health facilities following a shortage of beds at the Surgical Medical Emergency Unit of the hospital.

The lack of beds at the unit has forced doctors to treat patients in plastic chairs and on the floor following a directive by the health minister for doctors not to turn away patients due to lack of beds.

According to the Public Relations Officer of KBTH, Mr Mustapha Salifu, the move is part of measures to decongest the facility after overcrowding of patients has made it difficult for doctors to work at the SME.

Some photos making the rounds on social media since Monday has caused outrage among sections of the public with some questioning the environment patients were being treated in.

"You know, this is a 36-bed facility unit but as at yesterday, the patients that we had were in excess of 60. So, which means that we have literally doubled the number of patients that we should have at the SME. So that was why we had patients on chairs and some of them were even outside," Mr Salifu said in an interview on Joy FM.

"This morning there was one patient but fortunately the person has been moved in because space was created for him to move. At the moment, we are linking up with other hospitals to inform them not to refer, they can do telephonic consultations, we'll give them guide on how to deal with those cases except the dire emergencies that they will still speak to us and we will take them.

Commercial drivers have been advised to seek regular medical check-ups at approved health centres to be informed of their health status for safe driving.

This was announced when Vivo Energy Ghana, the Shell licensee, together with its transporters, namely J. K. Horgle, S.O Frimpong and J. K. Ahiadome Transports, with support from the Doctors for Road Safety (DFRS), National Road Safety Commission (NRSC), Ghana Red Cross Society and the Motor Traffic and Transport Department (MTTD) launched a wellness and road safety education programme dubbed ‘Fit²Drive’ for commercial drivers in Accra.

The Fit²Drive Road Safety Campaign, among other activities will educate, sensitise and screen commercial drivers at selected bus terminals in Accra and Tema for basic occupational health conditions associated with their work to help reduce road traffic accidents.

Launching the programme, the Managing Director of Vivo Energy Ghana, Mr. Ebenezer Faulkner commented on the increase in road traffic accidents and advised drivers to be sensitive to their health conditions and seek appropriate medical attention for safe driving.

“Among the many reasons attributed to road traffic accidents by health professionals is the failing health of drivers.

Chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes and their complications such as strokes, heart attacks and increased fatigue are direct risk factors for road safety accidents as they lower the productivity of drivers. In order to avoid these, let us be sensitive to the health of our drivers and encourage them to seek regular and timely medical attention to avert any unforeseen health failures on the road,” he advised.

As the recurrent discussion about Ghana’s poor healthcare service, especially emergency care, resurfaces, the Ghana Medical Association wants citizens to charge at the government for change.

Deputy General Secretary of the Association, Dr. Titus Beyuo, told Joy FM’s Super Morning Show on Tuesday that the deterioration at Ghana’s biggest hospital, Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) and other government facilities across the country is a testimony government that does not priortise healthcare.

“How is it possible that as a nation, we have only 54 functioning ambulances and we are okay?” he asked.

He also lashed out a recent directive by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to government-accredited hospitals and clinics to stop turning away patients because there are no beds.

The GHS asked the hospitals and clinics to stabilise the situation of patients needing emergency care before referring them to another facility.

While acknowledging that the directive is a step in the right direction as it would reduce the number of deaths blamed on what has come to be known as ‘no bed syndrome,’ Dr. Beyuo fears that directive by the GHS risks becoming a permanent solution to a bigger, nationwide healthcare problem.

“If we are content with the administrative fiat 'do not turn people away,' the outcome is what we are seeing. The quality of care is going to decrease. Patients are actually just going to die in hospitals. Relatives are going to go back with diseases and infections…and at the end of the day the Ghanaian is going to be the loser,” he told Super Morning Show host, Daniel Dadzie.

The Northern Region office of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), in partnership with the Tamale Teaching Hospital (TTH), has organized a blood donation exercise to augment the stock of blood at the hospital.

Staff of the NHIA in the region, including members of the public, participated in the exercise, which was held in Tamale over the weekend, with the NHIA using the exercise to register new subscribers onto the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

This year’s event was the fourth in a series of the annual blood donation exercise, instituted by the NHIA in the region.

Mr Issahaque Abdul-Latif, Northern Regional Director of NHIA said the exercise formed part of NHIA’s contribution to saving lives by replenishing the blood banks of hospitals in the region to provide quality health care for all.

Mr Abdul-Latif said road accidents had become rampant in the region, and that, most of the victims needed blood transfusion, amongst other emergencies hence the exercise.

He encouraged all to subscribe to the NHIS and regularly renew their registration to enjoy reliable health care.

Dr Emmanuel Kwadwo Tenkorang, the Ashanti Regional Director of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), has underlined the urgent need to train more paediatric eye care specialists to boost eye care for children and prevent childhood blindness.

Speaking at a media briefing in Kumasi, he said, the current situation, where there were only four of paediatric ophthalmologists in the country was deeply troubling as this was limiting access of children with eye problems to quality care.

He put the number of blind children under 18 years in Ghana at about 13,000.

The country’s blind population is estimated at 200,000 and an additional 600,000 people are living with visual impairment.

Dr Tenkorang said 80 per cent of these could be prevented by early detection and appropriate medical intervention.

He attributed the cause of childhood blindness to self-medication, congenital cataract, glaucoma, retinal and optic nerve diseases, corneal scarring, traditional and other environmental factors.

He called on parents to avoid self-medication and seek early treatment for all kinds of childhood eye problems.

The goal of the media encounter was to review the work of Orbis, an eye health outfit seeking to improve and ensure quality eye healthcare in the region, and to also encourage the media to up the campaign on eye early treatment, especially for children.