Two health facilities in Accra, the New Generation Medical Centre and the Adams Family Specialist Clinic, have been fined a total of Ghc105,000 (US$9,051.72) by the Health Facilities Regulatory Agency (HeFRA) of Ghana following an investigative story published by The Fourth Estate, a public-interest accountability journalism project of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA).
The New Generation Medical Centre received the heftiest fine of GH₵ 80,000 (US$6,896.55), while the Adams Family Specialist Clinic was slapped with GH₵ 25,000 (US$2,155.17).
The fines, described by HeFRA, as the the highest penalty the Authority has ever inflicted on any facility, were imposed on the two facilities for their negligence in verifying the credentials of the quack midwife before employing her, and the deaths, injuries and other incidents her employment into the two facilities had caused.
“The reason [they were fined] is that they should have checked her credentials before employing her,” Dr. Philip Bannor, HeFRA’s Registrar explained in an interview with The Fourth Estate.
He also revealed that “both of them [the two medical facilities] have paid the fine.”
The exposé has also nudged HeFRA itself to undertake reforms as a regulator. These include the adoption of unannounced inspection of healthcare facilities.
Explaining this, HeFRA’s Director of Compliance and Enforcement, Mr. Agyeman Badu, said that until The Fourth Estate’s story, HeFRA was required to announce schedules for its visits before visiting health facilities for inspections. However, going forward, HeFRA would be visiting registered health facilities across the country unannounced.
For the New Generation Medical Centre and the Adams Family Specialist Clinic, Mr. Badu said that HeFRA’s inspectors will be paying unannounced visits to them for six months until the regulator is satisfied with their level of compliance.
Mr. Badu also revealed that as part of the reforms, HeFRA has reviewed and enhanced its monitoring systems and mechanisms.
“Relative to this particular story, [The Fourth Estate’s Quack Midwife Series], we have decided that it shouldn’t always be the case that we are prompted. So, we have stepped up our monitoring activities across the regions such that even facilities that have been licensed also fall in line, to make sure that the conditions for which they are licensed are not varied, which will affect patient safety.”
The exposé about the quack midwife
The quack midwife exposé is a publication of The Fourth Estate that uncovered how an unlicenced midwife practiced for 30 years and the fatalities and injuries that resulted from her unprofessional actions.
The 18 month-long investigation of The Fourth Estate revealed that Francisca Quaye, alias ‘Matron Gaga’ had caused many medical accidents and the deaths of at least two babies through her employment of crude and unorthodox obstetrics methods at the medical facilities that used her services, especially at the New Generation Medical Centre and the Adams Family Specialist Clinic.
Following the exposé, the quack midwife went into hiding and has been on the run from the law, and HeFRA launched investigations into the activities of the two healthcare facilities. More details about the exposé are available here.
About The Fourth Estate
The Fourth Estate is a non-profit, public interest and accountability investigative journalism project of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA). It aims to promote independent and critical research-based journalism that holds those in power answerable to the people they govern.