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Mahama, Stop The Stealing, $306m Can Build Three Hospitals

Source: ghanaweb.com Columnist: Sarpong, Justice

The Mahama administration intention to renovate the Ridge hospital and increase the services offered by this hospital including an additional 220 beds is a noble one but as with every Ghana developmental project, this particular endevour takes the cake in terms of corruption. I have done a research into the cost of new hospitals built in Texas USA where labour cost is at least ten times what pertains in Ghana and with $306 million dollars, we can build three new modern hospitals even if we don’t change the labour cost between Ghana and USA.

Ghana’s continuous population growth means that more social facilities, including hospitals and clinics would have to be constructed and existing ones need to be expanded to meet the growing demand for quality health care.We support the development of Ghana’s health sector and indeed, every other sector and we appreciate the need to expand and improve the facilities so as to increase productivity. However, we are alarmed at a recent report at the Ridge hospital and shocked at the amount of money that is supposedly being spent on the expansion of the Ridge hospital from a 200 bed to a 420 bed capacity at a questionable cost of $306 million.

One would wonder how it is possible for Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote to build a state of the art 1000 bed capacity hospital, a project which will be implemented via his Dangote Foundation, at an estimated cost of N2 billion ($12.38 million) in Kano State, Nigeria; a country with similar economic situation as Ghana whilst Ridge hospital would add just 220 bed to the existing 200 beds at a whopping cost of $306 million.

The Children’s Medical Center Legacy in Plano, Texas has a total building area (sq. ft.) of 328,000, Construction cost/sq. ft. of $280, total construction cost (excluding land) of $92,000,000 and sits on a 84-acre site. It has a total of 240 patient beds, and four state-of-the-art emergency facilities. The facility features three above-ground floors plus a lower garden level, 72 single-patient rooms, and four operating rooms (plus shelled space for eight more), full-service diagnostics, an urgent/emergency care center, a lobby café, full-service cafeteria, chapel, gift shop, family resource center, and various patient and family lounges. The new building can be expanded by two additional floors, with long-term plans to add another five-story, two-wing bed tower.

The new Methodist Richardson Medical Center – opening April 14, 2014 – is a spectacular 125-bed hospital (with shell space for 50 more) featuring a dedicated Women’s Pavilion, well-appointed L and D suites, a level III NICU, a High-Risk Breast Surveillance Clinic, and robotic surgery, plus conveniences like free valet parking. With 400 physicians in 35 specialties, from cardiology and oncology to neurosurgery and orthopedics, the future of health care is bright at your new hospital for life.

It will also have inpatient beds related to an intermediate care unit, an ICU, medical and surgical care, telemetry, and labor and delivery. This new hospital has an estimated cost of US$120 million and has a square-foot of 266,250. It will have a cost/sq. ft. of US$451.

Then I read in the media about the story of Ridge hospital renovation and expansion. I was initially dismissive of the over US$300 million monetary figure suggested in the report. From what I read, the expansion was going cover 200 more rooms. Not a lot of information was provided as to the facilities and amenities that the building was going to have. A day later, a friend of mine called me and expressed alarm at a story he had read concerning how much Ghana was purportedly paying for the expansion a medical facility. After a brief discussion with my friend, I started searching for more information about the circumstances surrounding the Ridge hospital renovation. This is what led me to the curiosity of looking into the market value of buildings and facilities described above.

Taking one of the facilities describe above as an example, this means Ghana can have three new medical centers similar to the new Methodist Medical Center in Richardson, Texas (please take time to review the link above). Why then is Ghana not pursuing something obviously better for the nation? Imagine having these types of facilities in three major regional capitals. Why would that not be the desired focus of the government?

The story of Ridge hospital renovation and expansion carries with it multiple discouraging and disparaging feelings and thoughts. Who in his right mind would want to swerve a his or her own nation by hundreds of millions of dollars. I guess the other question is what sort of people would allow a small group of people to steal over US$140 million when they, the people, do not have water to drink, electricity for their homes and businesses, good roads to drive on, a good medical facility to go to when they get sick, etc.? Are the authorities involved in the theft to blame or the apathetic citizenry to blame?

My thoughts are that the folly of being wise in a society where ignorance and apathy is bliss is not worse than the slow death from scarcity and despair in the midst of blatant corruption and looting. The naked truth is that corruption and looting of the nation’s coffers can only be curtailed if, and only if, those involved are prosecuted, lose all their assets (including all accomplices) and jailed. The punishments should be very severe for people in positions of authority. This will go a long way in, at least, curbing some of the corrupt practices.

The challenge here is that the populace should demand this accountability. They have the power to address the looting and corruption. They elected the members of parliament and president. I am sure all Ghanaians suffer the same lack of water, electricity, car-worthy roads, decent medical facilities and amenities, etc. A member of parliament from your constituency living lavishly does little to alleviate your impoverish situation if you do not demand; it does not matter if you are from the same party as the member of parliament. unless you seek, you will never find. And unless you ask, it shall never be given to you. How is that difficult?

Justice Sarpong

(CARDINAL of TRUTH)