Fact check: Hon. Kobby Okyere-Darko Mensah wasn’t factual with claims on ‘ebola’ ventilators

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The Western Regional Minister, Hon. Kwabena Okyere-Darko Mensah, at a press briefing over the weekend, stated that an Ebola Treatment Center that was set up in the Western Region during the ebola epidemic, has some ventilators that could be retrofitted to be used in managing patients, in case we record cases of COVID-19 that will require ventilators. He added that aside ones in the ebola centre, the ambulances in the region also have ventilators fitted on them, and can be used in such instances as well.

He made this remark during the press briefing, as he responded to a question posed him by Skyy News’ Abraham Mensah, on the availability of ventilators in health centers in the region.

“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,” he stated.

But checks by Skyy News indicate the opposite. Producer of the morning show on Skyy, the Jolly Breakfast Show, Abraham Mensah reports that “there are no ventilators in there. The Medical Director of ENRH and Directors of the Regional Health Directorate inspected the place Monday afternoon, and it is said the facility is without a ventilator.”

The Ebola Treatment/Holding Facility

Dr. Tambil who confirmed the report, stated that they are trying to salvage some six ventilators that were bought during the CAN 2008 tournament. He explained that a Biomedical Engineer has been contacted to fix them, but finance has been a challenge.

“That has been the challenge, and that is the reason why we are partnering Skyy Power FM to raise funds to purchase some ventilators. We can see that in all these the weakest point in our preparedness is the lack of mechanical ventilators in case we do have large numbers of people who will need to have ventilation, we won’t be able to do that,” he justified.


The rescue

The six ventilators include two baby ventilators,-all of which have faulty LED displays and control panels. Dr. Tambil said the decision to fix these equipment was taken long ago even before the pandemic hit the country.

“In fact we sent them about three months ago but lack of funds has been the reason they are still sitting there because we needed to support the engineer to be able to buy some of the parts from outside to do the rehabilitation. Unfortunately, they are sitting there. The engineer has given assurance that two baby ventilators and one adult ventilator, will be fixed in the next couple of weeks.

“I have his word that in the next one or two weeks, that two baby ventilators together with one adult ventilator will be ready, and then the other three adult ventilators, hopefully in the next few weeks, he might be able to put them in order,” he stated.

Asked if he has foreknowledge of a procurement taken by government to provide the facility of a ventilator, Dr Tambir said; “I’m not privy to what government is doing at the level of the Ministry. I hope that happens because that is a huge headache that we have, and so if government is able to bring some of these machines, we will be thankful.”


Donations for the Ventilator

A Skyy Power FM-Effia Nkwanta Regional Hospital fund raising project for the procurement of a Ventilator is underway. A target amount of cedi equivalent of $28,000.00, is needed to buy a mechanized ventilator.

Donations have not been that promising. But the Medical Director is super sure some significant amount could be raised in the coming weeks. So far, the highest contribution has been that of JUSTMOH, a construction company based in Takoradi,- which made a donation of GH20,000.00 to support the initiative.

Dr. Joseph Tambir (left) receiving donation from Stephen Owusu of JUSTMOH(Right)

He thus entreated local companies and all individuals to commit some funds to the cause.

“If we are able to purchase ventilators, it will go beyond the pandemic. It is something that we will be using in the ICU, and this will be for the entire Western Region and beyond. Any of us can become a heart or respiratory patient at any time, so if we have these things, they could save several of us, at one point or the other,” Dr. Tambir disclosed.

That notwithstanding, according to Dr. Tambil, Management of the hospital has also sown a seed of GHC3,100.00, and that all staff have been admonished to make contributions towards the purchase of the ventilator.

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