Tamale Teaching Hospital is the biggest referral centre, serving the now five regions of the north. But some patients and residents are unhappy with the services rendered at the hospital.

The patients are angry because of extortion by some health workers at the facility. They carry the nightmares of watching relatives die on hospital beds over what they say is poor medical care and extortion.

Chief Executive of the hospital, Dr. David Akolbila, says the allegations of medical negligence are serious and promises he will not hesitate to probe the complaints.

 

But extortion is just one problem that has bedeviled the teaching hospital. There’s another situation that threatens the quality of healthcare service provided by this hospital.

Documents sighted by Joy News reveal widespread procurement breaches by hospital staff.

A special audit by the internal audit of the Hospital on drugs procurement above the ceiling of 29,000 cedis revealed that the amount was divided into two and awarded to one company FIRSTSOLVE Limited in 2014.

In that same year, the hospital’s audit found out that the anesthesia, ENT, A and E, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and labour ward could not account for drugs costing GHc125,100 because they didn’t maintain a ledger.

In that same period, the audit pointed out that GHc107, 920.26 cedis of drugs were unaccounted for. These drugs were rarely issued but were always requested. The then head of pharmacy Nicholas Adjimani was then the head of pharmacy. In a similar development, the store’s manager over-issued drugs amounting to GHc61, 797.

The same act was allegedly committed by the head of pharmacy and stores in a memo dated 2nd January 2014. He issued drugs worth GHc50, 088 cedis without following due process.

The head of pharmacy again with then acting CEO Dr. Prosper Akambong on 2nd October 2013 awarded contract for drugs supply without due process to the tune of GHc224,537.

It must be noted that Joynews undertook this important assignment because corruption by health officials will not only make people shy away from accessing healthcare in the hospitals for fear of being charged exorbitant fees, but also compel them to resort to dangerous self-medication options.

It is recounted here the experience of some ordinary Ghanaians with the Tamale Teaching Hospital to illustrate the point endemic corruption and unofficial charges. 

Mr. Wahab Karim whose wife delivered at the maternity ward of the Tamale Teaching Hospital is unhappy with unapproved fees taken from him by some health officials. He is bitter as he was not given receipts for some bills he paid.

It is customary for Muslims to say prayers into the ears of a newborn baby. But to be allowed to do this at the Tamale Teaching Hospital, the new mother or her husband must pay an amount of money.

Wahab, and the many Muslims whose wives have delivered here, have had to do this.  And there are many more stories about extortion in this hospital. Wahab is not the only resident with a bitter experience from the Tamale Teaching Hospital.

Ibrahim’s wife spent three months at the hospital after delivery. Ibrahim had to be by her. The pregnancy had complications. It meant more drugs were needed to save the expectant mother and the unborn baby. However, no receipts were issued for the drugs sold to him. He was concerned, but, the life of his wife mattered more.  So he gave in and paid.

After the midwife delivered his wife of her baby, the unsolicited demands did not end. When he added one to two on his calculator, he had parted ways with two thousand cedis although he had national health insurance. 

Then there is the story of Alhassan, a depressed-looking husband expecting his second child. Medical personnel demanded he pays GHc108 cedis for a drug to induce his wife’s pregnancy. He had already made substantial payments since she was admitted.

He did not have a penny on him and had to knock on the door of relatives for GHc108 cedis. The fate of his unborn child and wife hanged in the balance. After an hour, he finally raised the money. An anesthetist identified as Mohammed took the money but did not provide a receipt on demand.

Again is the story of Zainab. Her sister was detained at the maternity ward. The health official who delivered her of her baby demanded money for assisting her during the delivery.  

She had closed for nightly duties, but, waited on Zainab to pay GHc30 cedis delivery fee. Joy News Kwetey Nartey had to pay this on her behalf as she could not afford it.

Under the NHIS programme, pregnant women are to receive free full package access to antenatal, prenatal and postnatal care. But, this is not the case at the Tamale Teaching Hospital maternity ward. Alhassan’s case is even worsened when additional monies are demanded from him by a midwife before he is allowed to say prayers in the ears of his newly born baby.

These payments according to, Dr David Akolbila, Chief Executive of the Hospital, are not sanctioned by the authorities of the Tamale Teaching Hospital.

Alhassan’s wife could have died because of this extortion by the health official. He claims his second experience was better than when he was expecting his first child.

Conditions were never supposed to have been that bad at the third biggest teaching hospital in the country. Alhassan and others like Ibrahim are lucky to have their loved ones alive.

Abdul Rahman Yusif lost his 16-year-old-daughter, Abdul Rahama Shakina, at the same hospital.

Amidst tears, the heavily built man tried to recount what happened two months ago. But, the anger in him would not let him. 

On the 18th of September this year, he rushed his daughter to the Tamale Teaching Hospital. Doctors diagnosed her daughter as anaemic and needed a blood transfusion. They arrived at the hospital around 9:30 pm.

 The health workers assured them they would carry this procedure in an hour but delayed the process of getting the blood till 3 am and further delayed the transfusion till 9 am. Almost 12 hours of waiting. This was because he said the doctors demanded 108 cedis before the blood would be transfused. But, parents of the girl were told plainly that without money they would not take care of her.

The dying moments of her daughter still haunt the mother Yakubu Amama every night. If only she could get justice, she would have a semblance of closure.

And it appears there’s very little effort by the authorities at the hospital to deal with the situation.

Abu Inusah of the League of Youth has petitioned CHRAJ hoping the issue would be investigated. Such deaths from perceived poor medical care have not received any prior attention and probe.

 It’s been over two years since his son died in his hands, but, that chilling moment is still fresh on Ahmed Alizu Baidoo’s mind. He said his son would have been alive if he had been given the needed attention by health officials at Tamale Teaching Hospital.

Unfortunately, the Tamale Teaching Hospital is not alone in these unhealthy practices.  A baseline study by civil society groups CALID and the League of Youth on unapproved charges for health services at the three major health facilities – Tamale Teaching Hospital, Tamale Central Hospital, and The Tamale West Hospital found that patients generally held the view that most health workers are corrupt.

Out of 128 patients and caregivers interviewed, 89 claimed that there are corrupt practices in the health facilities.  The survey found that corruption in the health facilities is a reflection of the structural challenges, administrative and supervisory weakness.

The baseline study by CALID and the League of Youth also found that both petty and serious corrupt practices are engaged in by individual health workers and sometimes in connivance with other colleagues. The third level of rot which they classified as grand corruption is often done by two or more parties or group of people in authority.

According to Dr. David Akolbila, some of these acts have been sanctioned but others have not been resolved.

Unresolved, unpunished cases have the tendency to embolden current staff to engage in all forms of malfeasance. The effect is that the hospital becomes financially drained and ultimately services suffer.