The Herald Exposé Forces Emergency Meeting, Cash Release and Resumption of Work
From Samuel Mensah Torbizo, Kumasi
Stigmatization and neglect are the two most significant causes of death, fast killing HIV/AIDS patients worldwide, but it appears the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi, does not care about this, as its designated clinic for People Living with HIV (PLWH) to collect antiretroviral drugs is in a total mess with patients’ folders revealed to the view of the public.
The nation’s second teaching hospital, has not only left records containing vital information about HIV /AIDS patients and persons suffering from tuberculosis recklessly at the vagaries of the weather, but also to the public, creating the right environment for stigmatization and neglect.
The Herald’s revelation on Monday that the dirty politics at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in the Ashanti Region, which is manifested in unwarranted strike actions, leading to the deaths of innocent persons was popping once again with the deliberate refusal of management to release a GH¢63, 000 (¢630 million) cash support from Global Fund to refurbish the HIV/AIDS Clinic.
The scotching sun and recent heavy rain falls is of no concern to the management of the hospital, especially those whose responsibility it was to ensure that alternative accommodation is provided to run the clinic and also store patients records as renovation works take place.
The HIV /AIDS Clinic renovation works were supposed to be completed within four months, but was stalled, because the management of the second largest state-owned health facility were reluctantly to release funds meant for the project.
The refusal to release the money to the contractor and the lack of foresight to make alternative arrangement to temporarily house the HIV/AIDS Clinic, has worsen the plight of the HIV/AIDS and TB patients, as they had be wandering from one health facility to another in search of antiretroviral dose for their ailment.
The Herald on Monday, reported that the clinic’s renovation project was abandoned by the contractor, following a refusal of the management of KATH to release the GH¢63, 000 (¢630 million) Global Fund cash.
A follow up visit to the site of the clinic last Tuesday, revealed that after The Herald’s exposé in its Monday, July 29 edition, the management met and convinced the contractor to resume work.
Construction works were moving steadily when the paper toured the premises on Tuesday albeit on the quiet.
Some health workers of the clinic, who spoke to the paper under strict condition of anonymity, shared the sentiments of HIV/AISD patients saying they (patients) have been hovering from one hospital to another to receive their drugs, but end up frustrated and disappointed.
They were equally worried at how records produced from the tax payers’ money could be left open, for the rain and the sun to beat daily.
The paper further gathered that management of the hospital earlier in the day (Tuesday) held a crunch meeting, questioning who actually leaked the information to the paper.
At the said meeting the paper was informed that meagre amount was released to the contractor to go back and continue the renovation works on the clinic.
Even at the time of our last visit to the place, a young man who deals in floor tiles was on the neck of an official of the firm executing the
project, demanding his balance for materials supplied to them which was used on the project at KATH.
The Herald had earlier last week Thursday and Friday visited the Clinic and discovered the contractor was not at site, and took pictures of the abandoned project.
The clinic was discovered to have structural defects, leading to the spread of tuberculosis among patients and needed to be redesigned for ventilations especially.
No proper arrangement was made by the hospital. Patients were rather sent home with three months dose which had since run out. Currently they are called under trees, where doses of antiretroviral drugs are given them by pharmacists, without the normal medical checks by their physicians and prescriptions.
Meanwhile, the hospital through its Public Relations Officer (PRO), Kwame Frimpong, following from the emergency meeting held by management on the issue about Monday’s revelations, sent a rejoinder to The Herald in reaction to the story.
It is published below unedited for what it is worth;
RE: 12,000 KUMASI HIV/AIDS PATIENTS DYING AS KOMFO ANOKYE HOSPITAL SITS ON 630 MILLION NGO CASH
The attention of the Management of Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital has been drawn to a publication under the above headline which appeared on the front page of the Monday, 29th July 2013, edition of your newspaper.
The hospital wishes to indicate that your story was based on falsehood and half truths.
The fact of the matter is that a three month contract has been duly awarded to a construction company for the renovation of the Chest Clinic where HIV/AIDS patients attend clinic.
The contractor has been on site for the past (1) one month and was last week paid for the initial phase on the project executed by him.
It must be stated that the initial contract fund of GH¢63,000 provided by the Global Fund for the refurbishment of the Clinic was not enough for the scope of work awarded on contact.
However, due to Management’s commitment to the provision of facilities for the delivery of quality services to HIV and T.B. patients, it has decided to top-up the sum to GH¢77,000 from the hospital’s Internally Generated Fund.
Again, it must be stressed that the patients were given a three month supply of drugs in advance before the commencement of the project.
In addition to the above, the Pharmacy Manager of the clinic has also instituted alternative arrangements since April, 2013 where patients come for refills of their drugs at the Diabetes Centre on weekends.
Pharmacists do not therefore dispense medicines under trees as reported.
Provision was also made for those who may fall sick in the course of the renovation to report at the Accident and Emergency Centre for admission to the ward for medical care.
It must be stressed that the patients were adequately briefed on these measures before the clinic was closed down for renovation. Indeed, the National President of Persons Living with HIV was also informed.
The story’s reference to a report about drug shortages in November 2012 is also unfortunate since that report was similarly premised on falsehood as it was some Ghana Health Service facilities and not the hospital which experienced the said shortages.
Judging from the foregoing, it is false for anybody to create the impression that Management is sitting on the funds meant for the renovation of the Clinic and that HIV patients have been abandoned as a result of the renovation of the Chest Clinic.
HEAD OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Note The Herald stands by its sources as the hospital whose alarms were confirmed through site visits made by the paper.