Lack of beds in our hospitals in Ghana and rewarding theorists over ‘ground workers’

Imagine that you are to recruit health workers in Ghana who are knowledgeable and experienced in delivery of health care in Ghana to tackle the perennial problem of ‘lack of beds’ in our major hospitals that receive referrals.
You are to get two groups:

  1. Group 1 will work on producing and publishing (peer reviewed) papers on the situation of lack of beds in Ghana like:

(A) Lack of beds for emergencies in major/tertiary hospitals in Ghana, causes and recommendations for permanent solutions.

(B) Lack of beds in major/tertiary hospitals in Ghana, a qualitative study.

  • Here health workers and the general public will be interviewed.
  1. Group 2 will form a ‘task force’ that will go to district/peripheral hospitals to equip these hospitals to manage emergencies to reduce the number being referred to the major/tertiary hospitals.

If health workers were to volunteer, what do you think will be the percentage in each group? And why?

Whereas the first group (publishing) will ensure a reward in the career path – promotion, or getting a degree, diploma etc, our system generally does not effectively reward those who implement recommendations and solve problems on the ground.
This has led to more people writing papers on problems rather than ‘getting their hands dirty’ in solving these problems.

I believe that the solution to this ‘lack of beds problem’ lies in:

  • Decentralisation
  • Task shifting

We must work towards equipping and training health workers (including task shifting to empower middle cadre staff) in other towns and peripheral hospitals in Ghana (other than Accra/Kumasi) to render quality services.
Then Ghanaians (including all of us) will have more options.
We are all at risk.

Until solving problems gets rewarded as much as (or more than) diagnosing problems and giving recommendations (mostly in ‘peer reviewed publications’), I am afraid we shall go round in circles as a country.
Am I a prophet of doom?


This piece was written on Sunday, June 17, 2018. It is in the upcoming book by Dr. Kofi Effah titled ‘Ghana on her knees: Reflections of a village doctor’ that features over 50 of his pieces.
You can read some old and new pieces from the author at

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