Interview with Dr. Obachi, MD, Focos Hospital in Ghana
- February 13, 2017
”Serving and Reviving Human Lives”
When was FOCOS hospital established?
The Hospital is the brain child of the Foundation of Orthopaedics and Complex Spine (FOCOS), a non-profit organization established in 1998 by Prof Dr. Oheneba Boachie – Adjei. Although its construction started in 2008, but prior to that, the foundation operated at the Korle Bu teaching hospital. The full complement of orthopaedic and spine care provided by FOCOS Hospital makes it well positioned to meet the health care needs of our patients throughout Africa.
What motivated Dr. Oheneba Boachie to return to Ghana and start a hospital that has become so successful in the short span of time?
My decision to return to Ghana was borne out of my desire to help the underprivileged; especially the sick and the disabled and to realize my dream and vision of helping to build capacity in health care in Ghana; using my own near death childhood illness as an example.
What were the challenges Dr. Oheneba Boachie faced to realize the dream of creating a world-class hospital?
The challenges were many, and included lack of human resources, physical infrastructure and the funding to manage complex deformities that required sophisticated and expensive intervention. Since the cases came late and had been neglected for so long, most of the deformities were in their advanced stages of development. Nonetheless, these challenges still remain and we need to collectively find ways and means to deal with them.
What is the scenario of special surgeries in Ghana?
Ghanaians are not immune to complex medical problems that require special medical care. With the lack of specialty medical services, however, many of these problems go untreated, which lead to early deaths and disability. These include, cardiovascular, cancer care, orthopaedic disorders, gynaecological, infectious diseases, obstetrics and neurological conditions, etc.
What is the vision for FOCOS hospital and Ghana health sector?
FOCOS’ vision is to build a sustainable infrastructure for specialty training in orthopaedics and the development of first class orthopaedic technology and surgery.
What are areas that Ghana currently lacks in terms of specialists and equipment etc.?
Ghana lacks specialists in pretty much all medical fields in terms of numbers. For example, only 25 orthopaedic consultants and less than 20 neurosurgeons take care of 26 million people. This is woefully inadequate. And there are several areas with similar numbers. Furthermore, there’s not enough sophisticated and advanced medical equipment like imaging, diagnostic and therapeutic, surgical supplies. Even instrumentation is also inadequate in many health care centers.
How many medical cases does FOCOS Hospital handle every year?
The hospital sees and reviews close to 500 patient visits a month, which translates into about 6000 patients in a year. FOCOS also performs about 600 procedures each year, including approximately 350 major orthopaedic procedures.
What is Dr. Boachie’s advice to doctors who want to follow his footsteps?
My advice is in three folds; define the area you have the passion for, acquire the training and work hard to become a specialist in that area and find friends and benefactors who believe in your dream and can help you financially and in-kind. Also, be prepared to make a personal sacrifice and contribution before you expect others to help you. And in all these, have FAITH and patience and work diligently towards achieving your goals.
What is Dr. Boachie‘s opinion about Medical Tourism, and as per your research, how many Ghanaians travel abroad for treatment annually?
Medical tourism is an avenue to generate revenue for the country, as well as demonstrating our expertise and proficiency in medical specialties, particularly in orthopaedics. For many Ghanaians, the cost to travel abroad for specialty care is prohibitive and cannot be encouraged. Money spent on a single case abroad can cater for 10 such individuals who are treated locally. For instance, the cost of a single joint replacement or spine surgery will pay for 10 procedures here. Such affordable care for specialty services can also draw other foreigners to come to Ghana for specialty care without having to go out of Africa for similar services. At FOCOS, we provide high quality care at affordable cost.
Can Ghana become a hub for medical tourism? If so, what government policies should be required to achieve it?
Yes, indeed, Ghana can become a medical tourism hub for Africa if the right policies are effectively put in place by the government. Historically, Ghana has been a pioneer and leader in many areas. For example, our independence, political and economic stability, hospitable and safe environment, etc. So it is incumbent on the government to take advantage of all these positives to lure foreign nationals especially Africans to come to Ghana for their affordable medical care. Policies that the government can institute should include lifting the tariffs on visa, ease of travel to Ghana, improve hospitality facilities, facilitate foreign exchange programs, and support local medical facilities with infrastructure development and favorable importation and taxation programs.
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