Health is a critical sector of every society or economy. Ignore the health sector and the result would be feeble people who cannot effectively contribute to national development because they would not have the sound mind to solve societal problems.
Happily, health facilities, including clinics, polyclinics and hospitals, have come to take care of treatment of various conditions.
It should, however, be noted that hospitals handle cases that are complicated and even among the various hospitals, some handle more complicated cases, hence hospitals are classified in order, for example, to determine which case should be sent to a particular one.
Among other things, hospitals are classified by size, type of service rendered, by facilities and by length of stay.
The focus of the Ghanaian Times is on length of stay, which has to do with the time between when a patient is first admitted to hospital for care until he is either discharged or transferred to another hospital.
Here is usually the point where beds are needed. Modern hospitals, especially in developed jurisdictions, tend to rarely exceed 800 beds as such a facility is deemed the largest unit that could be governed satisfactorily from a single administrative unit while maintaining corporate unity.
However, in developing countries the bed-occupancy rate is often more than 100 per cent. That is to say that there are more patients in and others still seeking to be admitted to the hospitals than there are beds for them. This is the situation in Ghana today.
The Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, with 2,000 beds and Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi with 1,000 beds, are the only hospitals in the country that meet and even exceed the 800-bed capacity criterion, yet referrals and visits that demand some length of stay have made nonsense of the number of these beds. Remember, Korle Bu Teaching Hospital is currently the third largest hospital in Africa and the leading national referral centre.
There are just about 3,400 beds in seven public hospitals in Accra, including Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, serving the health needs of the over five million population, meaning all the other six share 1,400 out of which the Greater Accra Regional Hospital (Ridge) boosts 420 beds and the Trust Hospital following it with 86 beds.
The cases of other regional or teaching hospitals, with the exception of Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (Ashanti Region), are appalling. For instance, Tamale Teaching Hospital (Northern Region) has 484, Cape Coast Teaching Hospital (Central Region) 400 and Ho Teaching Hospital (Volta Region) 240.
Other cases are worst. For instance, only a 284-bed facility would be constructed in the first phase of the construction of a 600-bed facility in Koforidua (Eastern Region).
Some patients are suffering avoidable deaths for lack of beds in Ghanaian hospitals, especially the teaching, regional and other referral hospitals.
There is the case of a 70-year-old man who reportedly died in his car at the LEKMA Hospital after the family had driven him to other major hospitals, including the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital and the Police Hospital.
The Ghanaian Times believes in the expertise of the country's health professionals but can say that without the facilities like beds, they would look on while people's lives are wasted.
Therefore, the paper appeals to the powers that be to provide the needed beds to the hospital and save lives.