In the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the availability and sufficiency of Intensive Care Beds have proven very essential in saving the lives of people from the deadly Coronavirus.
Research has established that Ghana has a significant shortage of critical care beds that are inequitably distributed across the country and a shortfall of intensivists to staff ICUs.
The research conducted by Moses Siaw-Frimpong, MD, Sunkaru Touray, MD, MSc, FACP, and Nana Sefa, MD, MPHc on the “Capacity of intensive care units in Ghana” shows Ghana’s ICUs in proportion to its 30 million population is 0.5 to 100,000.
In all, the country has only sixteen intensive care units operating in only 9 hospitals across the country, and of the 16 ICUs, 13 are adult facilities and 3 are pediatric ICUs.
The total of 149 ICU beds has an allocation of 113 being for adults and 36 being pediatric.
In terms of human resources for managing the ICUs in the country, the median number of staffed ICU beds and ventilators was 5 (IQR 4–6), and 4 (IQR 3–5) respectively.
The country currently has only 8 intensivists practicing in the country, this number comprises 2 pediatric intensivists and 6 adult intensivists.
Data from the research also indicates that about half of ICUs (56%) are solely staffed by non-intensivist providers.
The researchers also observed that whilst there exist adequate nursing support and availability of critical care medications, the current financing model for critical delivery has created a significant barrier for most patients.
In their advice, the researchers have thus called for a holistic approach that focuses on the key bottlenecks to quality improvement necessary to improve the capacity and quality of critical care delivery.