Oxygen & Water Have Ghana’s foremost hospitals become death traps?

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Incidents at Ghana's leading hospitals concerning the lack of water or oxygen is not one the nations needs now. Have Ghana's top hospitals become death traps?

play Have Ghana’s foremost hospitals become death traps?

A hospital is supposed to be a place where lives are saved. However, the situation in Ghana is gradually turning otherwise per the recent turn of events.

The quality of service at hospitals in Ghana has always been questionable. But never has it been at such a low ebb. The Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), the 37 Military Hospital, among other prominent health centres have all had their fair share of problems when it comes to health delivery.

The aforementioned trio are the foremost hospitals in Ghana; in fact they are the best the country has to offer. But as it stands now, even these hospitals appear not to be up to standard.

A hospital is supposed to be a place where lives are saved, however, the situation in Ghana is gradually appearing otherwise per the recent turn of events.

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It was one of Ghana’s darkest days in the recent times when news broke that five patients of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) had died in the last seven days as a result of oxygen shortage. A letter written by Dr. Michael Leat – Chairman of the Komfo Anokye Doctors Association (KADA) – to the Chief Executive Officer of the hospital stated that the KATH had become a “death trap”, and that the doctors are “tired of presiding over deaths”.

Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) play

Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH)


The letter further revealed that the hospital lacked several basic things that doctors needed in order to discharge their duties diligently. According to the letter, five patients had been lost in the last seven days as a result of a shortage in oxygen. As one of the top-three hospitals in the country, the KATH should be offering far better. But as it stands, it serves up a recipe for serious thought.

More worrying is the fact that the other two hospitals that should be setting the pace – the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) and the 37 Military Hospital – are also entangled in this sort of ‘deficiency’.

Last year, there was a shortage of doctors at the KBTH which forced the hospital into attending to only specialized cases, to the detriment of other patients. Earlier in January this year the National Intensive Care Unit of the hospital was again hit by water shortage. The situation was so bad that nurses and other health officials had to walk long distances with plastic barrels (gallons) in search of water.

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The 37 Military Hospital – although better off than the others – is also still fazed by petty, avoidable problems.

In the end, the story is the same as it has always been. The long speeches, the unending complains and a careless approach to solving issues; that is why Ghana’s foremast hospitals are gradually becoming death traps and it leaves much to be desired.

Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) play

Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH)


For a country looking to improve in the health sector, the maintenance of hospitals should be a priority. However, that has been relegated, and it is the ordinary citizen that faces the consequences.

The death trap is not only a faulty, falling bridge on top of a gutter; neither is it a dangerous building waiting to collapse. Any hospital that cannot supply enough oxygen to its patients is a death trap. If a health facility lacks water supply to cater for its intensive units, it immediately becomes a death trap; and if any hospital is short of doctors, then it is also a death trap.

Enough has already been said – with very little action backing the words. But if five citizens can die in the space of seven days due to a lack of oxygen, then Ghana’s hospitals are reaching a point when they will eventually become death traps.

Update – March 9, 2017

A faulty oxygen producing machine that has reportedly been abandoned at the Tamale Teaching Hospital has resulted in at least seven deaths.

Repairs for the oxygen supply point of the health facility requires a little below GHS 30,000.

Seven babies at the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) reportedly died on Monday, March 6, 2017 due to the lack of sufficient oxygen supply to the unit.

The Head of the Oxygen Unit, Godwin Nyanyo explained the reason for the constant shortage of oxygen at the health centre to Accra-based Starr FM:

The pump has the bearings broken in them and we need to replace the bearings on the pump and the seals and the motor is also a challenge; it heats up after some hours of running so ideally we will need to change the electric motor. The dryer also has some leaking problems so we need to reconfigure the pipelines so we can work on the dryer, take the condenser out and repair the leakage.

What we are producing now is not enough because we have challenges with the plant. We are therefore relying on our auxiliary compressor which is not able to generate the capacity. What we produce now serves as back up and only goes directly to wards and theatres.

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