The History of Korle-Bu Hospital

Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital was established in 1923 as a colonial hospital for what was then the Gold Coast by Governor Guggisberg. Korle-Bu was to become the standard by which all other hospitals in the nation were to model themselves after. Today it’s the leading national referral hospital in Ghana with a bed capacity of 1,600 and 3,000 members of staff. There’s an average daily out-patient attendance of 1,000 and an average of 120 people are admitted daily.

After independence, general growth of the hospital continued, including phases to extend the hospital into a medical school. However in Ghana’s tumultuous coup ridden climate in the late 60’s and early 80’s, development for the hospital stopped, as in most areas, including banking. Eunice Adei, a doctor at the hospital wrote in a comment that:

“Recently one of our consultant surgeons entered the ER and commented that the place looked exactly the same as it did when he was a house-officer (in the 70’s) - even the nurses looked the same.”

Under Ghana’s “Cash and Carry” system, patients admitted to the hospital must pay their debt for healthcare services received in cash before they will be released from the hospital. The current government has cited a need to implement an Insurance Scheme for the general populace, a facet that was largely ignored in the past. Until those plans actually take off, there are patients, including newborn and infant babies, who are literally held prisoner in the hospital until their families can come up with enough money to pay off the bill.

Another problem that the hospital and the nation as a whole faces is the mass exodus of it’s medically trained staff from the country in search of better pay and perks in foreign countries. The dire conditions become worse, as those left to cater to the sick are pushed to the limits of exhaustion while trying to fill in the void of their departed colleagues. Additionally, Korle-Bu and indeed hospitals throughout the nation are poorly equipped, or have huge overheads trying to maintain the equipment they do have.

It is not all gloom and doom, however. You will hear some of the stories of both doctors and patients caught in this national dilemma. You will also see how you can help impact this cycle for the better and “meet” families who have been graced with your pledge of help.

Thank you so much for caring.

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