July 30, 2013
Early in 2012, a section of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) that served 12,000 HIV/AIDS patients in Ghana's Ashanti region closed for renovation. Hospital authorities stated the renovations were necessary to correct structural defects that allowed TB to spread among the hospital's patients. Before closing the HIV section, KATH officials gave HIV-infected patients a four-month supply of antiretroviral therapy (ART), but made no other provisions to continue HIV care during the construction. Although officials expected renovations to be complete in four months, construction has stopped and the HIV section remains closed. The contractors reported that KATH claimed it had no funds to pay for the work.
The international nongovernmental organization The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, & Malaria originally supplied funding for the renovation, but KATH officials claimed that Ghana's National Tuberculosis Programme has not released the funds to the hospital. It was not clear how many HIV-infected patients have died as a result of interruptions in HIV care and treatment. Displaced KATH patients who attempted to obtain HIV medications from other clinics or hospitals faced discrimination and stigmatization. Because Ghana's government supplied ART to HIV-infected people, obtaining ART from pharmacies was very difficult. In an attempt to assist HIV patients, KATH pharmacists have resorted to distributing ART without prescriptions on the hospital grounds.
Hospital sources stated that KATH was taking steps to release funds to the contractor so construction could recommence.