First Lady, Rebecca Akufo-Addo, has expressed confidence, that Ghanaians can build a dignified, self-sustaining country and shun the tag as a beggar nation.
She said the new Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) Maternity block built entirely out of fundraising efforts is an example that the President’s mantra of Ghana beyond aid is possible.
Delivering a speech at the commissioning of the facility in the Ashanti Regional capital, Kumasi, she mentioned the numerous support the project received after fundraising efforts in Accra and Kumasi in 2017.
“…even children sent their contributions”, she revealed.
The Rebecca Foundation project started after a Joy News documentary revealed in March 2017, shocking rate of mortality at KATH partly due to overcrowding.
In the Joy News documentary ‘Next To Die’, a cot meant for one baby is shared by as many as eight newborns. A father testified after he lost two babies when his wife delivered at the hospital in 2013, 2014 and 2016 respectively.
“How did we as a country get here?” Rebecca Akufo remembered her own outrage that joined in the national outpouring of indignation and shame.
“That was when I knew we needed to act”.
A KATH Maternity Block which began in 1974 had stalled for more than 40 years. It would cost more than $70m to furnish and furnish the more than a 1,000-bed facility.
The Rebecca Foundation found it pragmatic to build immediately a less costly 10million cedi facility.
She was happy that the “outpouring of indignation gave way to an outpouring of giving”.
The First Lady, ‘Second’ Lady Samira Bawumia and wife of Asantehene, Lady Julia joined in helping raise funds.
Two months after the March documentary, work on the new building began on May 29, 2017, courtesy the free services of African Builders Partners, a construction company.
After two inspections in October and later on December 9, 2017, the First Lady was chaffed.
“Now I need to confess this. What I saw was way beyond what I had imagined…it was simply overwhelming to see what all of us have done as a people in just five short months.”
Facing the “world-class” facility which is the only green hospital in Africa, Rebecca Akufo-Addo said; “Today is a happy day for us all. What we see here is in sharp contrast to the day the documentary was aired”.
“I stand here a fulfilled woman, I stand here a grateful mother, proud of my people.”
The commissioning was graced by wife of Asantehene, Lady Julia, the Batamahene and a host of traditional leaders in the region.
She proceeded to share some lessons she has learned from the concerted effort. The project she said made a strong impression on her that “we are better together…we are capable of solving our challenges.
The First Lady urged Ghanaians to join in the President’s economic diplomacy of building Ghana beyond aid. “That’s the president’s dream, that is my dream and I dare say that it is everyone’s dreams too.”
She was full of praise for Joy News’ award-winning journalist, Seth Kwame Boateng, noting his documentary is a demonstration of the power of the media to promote unity and development.
” Multimedia, Seth Kwame Boateng you make us all proud”, she said. A citation from the KATH management was presented to the Multimedia journalist for being a “journalist with a difference”.
The First Lady expressed a strong desire to see the hospital manage the new maternity block properly and indicated her continued willingness to provide further support.
Health Minister, Kwaku Agyemang Manu, revealed that after consultations with The Rebecca Foundation and traditional leaders, the KATH Mother and Baby Unit has been named Nana Afia Kobi Serwaa Ampem II Center.
It was named after the late mother of the Ashanti King.
While the commissioning went on, President Nana Akufo-Addo tweeted his delight at the completion of the project and praised his wife.