A nurse in a white hazmat suit stands at a wobbly wooden desk, folding surgical equipment into blue paper sheets and depositing them in a cardboard box on the floor. A white microwave-looking contraption sits next to her, ostensibly to help clean scalpels and forceps, but it’s broken — the gate keeps popping open.
“We have to try to clean each tool separately,” she explains. “After that, we wrap it up to keep it safe until the next surgery.”
It’s not the most perfect way to clean and store tools, but it’s the only alternative for the medical staff at Kings Medical Clinic in Bolgatanga, Ghana’s Upper East Region, near the Burkina Faso border.
The center, which is partially provided by the state and a group of Christian missionary agencies, is one of the district’s sole hospitals, serving a population of 140,000 people. It treats people from birth to age for a variety of ailments, including minor respiratory illnesses, malaria, diabetes, and simple surgical procedures. It is among the most well-equipped facilities in the region, but doctors and nurses claim it lacks the fundamental instruments needed to care for patients.
They lack the appropriate protective equipment, the surgical theater has only one light, and the device that administers anesthetic must be utilized physically during procedures due to its loss of automation.
Ghana, which is known for having one of the best health-care systems in Sub-Saharan Africa, is already suffering from chronic underfunding in recent years. Covid-19, according to local health-care professionals, entirely emptied their hospitals’ coffers, prohibiting nurses and doctors from caring for individuals with persistent and frequently fatal illnesses.
Staff in Bolgatanga, a region with one of Ghana’s most powerful public health offices, and health care workers across the country are becoming very interested in the ability to help patients and save lives in the years ahead, especially as some of the country’s best-funded hospitals are taking on fewer cases to conserve resources. Ghana’s entire hospital could crumble if new Covid versions produce an increase in cases or if a huge deadly disease outbreak occurs.
While the World Health Assembly, the United Nations, and other international health organizations have attempted to assist low-income countries like Ghana in developing their health-care sectors over the last twenty years, health-care workers here claim that the investments have not met the demand.
Medical professionals at the King’s Clinic fear that without extra and maintained assistance from the global community and the Ghanaian authorities for devices, meds, and extra staffing, they will not be able to close the gap, placing millions of patients at risk during next pandemic. They believe they won’t have the tools they need to administer testing, injections, and medicines if they don’t get extra aid. If health-care personnel in Ghana are concerned, so are those in other nations in the region, including such Sierra Leone and Uganda, where health-care is considered a luxury.
Since the inception of Covid, little money has been cast aside by the global system to broaden the scope of global expenditure on health based hierarchical as it pertains to swine flu vaccinations. The Financial Intermediary Fund was established in 2021 by the World Bank and the United States to help low-income nations enhance the capacity of their healthcare systems so that outbreaks can be contained more promptly.
Only $962 million has been pledged to the fund, and it’s unclear how much of it would go directly to countries to bolster their public health systems vs assisting them pay for health defenses like vaccines and treatments. Governments and international health agencies have already committed billions of dollars to developing those instruments in the event of the next epidemic. Investing in low-income countries’ health care systems will cost tens of billions of dollars more, far more than developing medical remedies.
Even if the Financial Middleman Fund set aside considerable funds to assist countries in responding to epidemics by, for example, creating better surveillance networks, facilities like Ghana’s Kings Hospital remain vulnerable.
“We’ll should have a lot of it.” We’re working to make room for the patients. There is no intensive care unit at our hospital. We don’t have the necessary personnel. We need all of the gear, too,” says Wenceslaus Apungu, the medical officer at Kings Hospital, who also points out that the hospital’s laboratory can only do a few tests and that the institution lacks operational ultrasound, X-ray, and MRI machines. “They’ve given up.”
According to the G-20, $34 billion in state money per year for the next five years is required to help the world plan for the next epidemic, including upgrading healthcare systems in countries such as Ghana.However, it’s uncertain if the world will eventually take the threat of another epidemic serious enough to stabilize low-income countries’ health-care systems, allowing them to respond appropriately.
Covid money is running out, and medical centers in these countries are scrambling to figure out how to best treat the virus while also addressing other systemic ailments. Tests, medicines, and vaccinations are the focus of global health organizations, governments, and pharmaceutical firms. However, the debate over allocating cash to help countries absorb and redistribute them has mostly receded into the background.
For years, world health rulers and advocates have tried to argue that the global community must do more to continuously finance and support health systems in low nations, even those in Africa, by assisting in the hiring and training of personnel, the provision of essential medical supplies, and the expansion of supply chains.
Moreover, wealthier Western nations have promised to revolutionize the way nations manage for large-scale health crises throughout the last several decades as a result of repeated infectious disease epidemics. However, according to health activists, that money is frequently connected to emergency funding packages, and the money normally disappears after a few years.
At the time Ebola crisis hit , the United States in 2014 was the single-largest donor to help Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone restore their health systems – and then some. As part of its 2015 budget package, Congress granted $5.4 billion in emergency money for several agencies, many which only had assured cash for three years or until it ran out. The Obama administration sought the next year to redeploy some of the monies set up for the worldwide Zika response.