The Emergency Medicine Directorate of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital wants the government to prioritise emergency healthcare services under the National Health Insurance Scheme.

Head of the directorate, Dr Maxwell Osei-Ampofo, acknowledges interventions by the hospital to stabilise distressed patients.

He, however, believes the current situation makes emergency care challenging.

“For Komfo Anokye, we have a policy called red stamp policy and emergency drug packs, where some of the time-sensitive illnesses and injuries we see often we’ve put together drugs for them so you need not go and buy drugs if you don’t have money but it doesn’t cover all the injuries. If somebody comes with head injury or if there’s a situation we’d have to do a chest x-ray, you know, these are not covered by insurance so treating them becomes a challenge,” he said.

Dr Osei-Ampofo was speaking at the first emergency medicine conference by the Emergency Medicine Society of Ghana in Kumasi, Ashanti Region capital.

He observed that many patients are unable to afford the cost of emergency care because they just do not have the money while NHIS does not cover such services.

Dr. Osei-Ampofo advocates insurance cover for the first 48 hours to improve outcomes of patients with acute illnesses.

The conference was under the theme, “A Decade of Emergency Medicine in Ghana: the Impact and the Future.”

Emergency Medicine Consultant and Chair of Emergency Medicine at the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons, Dr George Oduro, want emergency care incorporated in undergraduate and postgraduate healthcare training.

He says expansion of training will be crucial for the country’s emergency healthcare needs.

“I’d like to see emergency medicine embedded in the university faculty as an academic discipline, able to teach all undergraduates and continue with postgraduates, able to contribute to nursing faculties among others.

“Up till now we still have one dedicated training programme which is Kumasi.  Already some of our specialists working in Tamale and Cape Coast so it’ll be nice if we have training programmes there,” an optimistic Dr Oduro stated.

Vice-President of African Federation for Emergency Medicine, Dr Joseph Bonney hinted the federation is harnessing potentials of members to build a culturally acceptable health care system.

“There are some drugs that will react in Caucasian than it would react with Africans. So the idea is to build a health system for Africans by Africans putting it in the resource setting we are in; to come out with policies that fit the environment, fit the weather and fit the people we serve,” he said.

“This will mean we’ll be putting in measures and policies not directly borrowed from other countries but policies that are adjusted to fit the African continent,” Dr. Bonney added.

Major components of the conference include a workshop for regional health directors, health administrators among others.

They will learn about new tools and principles for setting up emergency units at all levels of the health system.

Solutions to the ‘no bed’ syndrome and use of technology to solve pressing health needs will also be discussed.