On April 26, 2020, President Nana Akufo-Addo announced the construction of hospitals in some 88 districts across the country during his 8th address to Ghanaians on measures the government has taken to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.
The implementation of ‘Agenda 88’ – the building within a year, a fully-equipped, functional district hospital for 88 districts and it would be a functional regional hospital for each of the new regions.
This was what was promised on that fateful day and that address became the most significant among the numerous ones he made on the government’s intervention in the global pandemic. And this due to the simple fact that: he announced Ghana’s biggest intervention in the health sector since independence.
President Akufo-Addo said: “There are 88) districts in our country without district hospitals; we have six (6) new regions without regional hospitals; we do not have five infectious disease control centres dotted across the country; and we do not have enough testing and isolation centres for diseases like COVD-19. We must do something urgently about this. That is why Government has decided to undertake a major investment in our healthcare infrastructure, the largest in our history. We will, this year, begin constructing 88 hospitals in the districts without hospitals”.
President Akufo-Addo also reiterated the government’s plans of building regional hospitals in the six new regions to boost healthcare delivery in the country.
“Each of them will be a quality, standard-design, one hundred bed hospital, with accommodation for doctors, nurses and other health workers, and the intention is to complete them within a year. We have also put in place plans for the construction of six new regional hospitals in the six new regions, and the rehabilitation of the Effia Nkwanta Hospital, in Sekondi, which is the regional hospital of the Western Region.”
On that night, he was emphatic on the number of hospitals and the time for its takeoff.
At a meeting with chiefs and elders from the Bolgatanga, Bongo, and Talensi-Nabdam areas of the Upper East Region usually referred to as BONABOTO, President Akufo-Addo said the project forms part of government’s plan to expand the country’s health infrastructure.
“We intend on Agenda 88; God willing everything will be okay for us to start in July. We are hoping that by the end of June, all the arrangements that need to be done might have been completed so that by the end of July, we begin it. I want to make sure that within a year, all of those projects will be complete,” he said.
But after a year, not a single one of the promised hospitals is yet to be constructed.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman Manu during his vetting disclosed that the promise by the President was just a vision.
Mr Agyeman-Manu said the vision of the President should have translated into action but unfortunately work on the construction of the hospitals have been delayed due to several reasons.
“What the president said was his vision and that should have translated to actual work. Indeed some work was done, a committee was set up at the presidency chaired by the Chief of Staff and I was a member…we wrote to district assemblies for land and site plans but as we speak 13 of those assemblies are yet to complete their work…and that is why we are where we are,” Mr Agyeman-Manu told the appointments committee.
Though the government has conceded to difficulties in the procurement processes involved in acquiring the lands for the project, recent economic challenges put a dent into this ‘vision’ by the President.
Some government communicators have argued that the project will still be completed, however, it won’t be quick as Akufo-Addo anticipated.
He still has more years to bring his second term of office to an end, so let’s all wait and see if his promise will materialise.