COVID 19: The paradox of ‘Western region having ventilators’, in an uncertain moment

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The world has now been through a state of uncertainty. It has indeed been ‘defiled’ by an invisible sickness – one that the earth’s most medically advanced countries are still struggling to find a cure. Over a million lives have been directly affected this disease, and it continues to claim thousands each passing day. What am I talking about? It is the ‘deadly’ novel Coronavirus disease – COVID-19.

Coronavirus (termed COVID 19) is a new virus linked to the same family of viruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and some types of common cold.

For such a disease, as advised by experts, the most essential tool in managing the condition is a VENTILATOR. Yes a ventilator. The disease primarily targets and destroys the victim’s respiratory system. At its terminal stage, a victim could feel being suffocated, and the only thing medical experts could do to save a dying man is to place him/her on a ventilator to support the respiratory system.

Having stated the essence of this device, lets try to assess our situation in terms of its availability in the Western Region.

The uncertainties 

Government undeniably, is aware of the crisis- the lack of ventilators in most health facilities across the country. Some assurances have been made to procure ventilators, but this may be for another day.

As a region (Western Region), the only referral health Center; Effia Nkwanta Regional Hospital, is without a ventilator. Management of the facility, in this harrowing times, have initiated a fund raising campaign in partnership with Skyy Power FM, and supported by all media houses in the region, to procure ONE or more ventilator(s). Donations, relative to the cost of the device, has not been impressive – I’ve learnt.

So, what would be your expectation of the other health facilities in the region? Quiet disappointing, I guess. As it stands, none has a ventilator.

The Regional Minister, Dr. Kwabena Okyere Darko Mensah is betting OUR hopes on what is installed in the 17 Ambulances in the region, and at CDH.

Just to quote him responding to a question on the availability of ventilators, during a recent press briefing- “In all the ambulances, there are ventilators, and that is our first line. And then you know that when Ebola started in the Western Region, we had a purpose-built isolation center at CDH, and they also have some ventilators in there. And we are trying to put the place back to full  work.”

But my checks revealed that those ventilators are not functional, and need to be repaired. Again not all the 17 ambulances in the region could be used to manage the situation, as IDEALLY, releasing them for ‘COVID-19 treatment’ at the expense of other unforeseen medical emergency cases is unacceptable. Deep throat source at the Regional Health Directorate, reveal three of the ambulances have been assigned to respond to calls on COVID 19 cases in the region.

So, can the region be in a better state to handle JUST a single incident of the disease?  This, I leave to you to conclude.


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