Capacity of intensive care units in Ghana

J Crit Care. 2021 Feb:61:76-81. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2020.10.009. Epub 2020 Oct 15.


Purpose: To document the equipment, resource and bed capacity of Intensive Care Units (ICUs) in the Republic of Ghana.

Materials and methods: Cross-sectional observational study of all operating ICUs in Ghana. Sixteen operating ICUs in 9 hospitals were identified and surveyed (13 adult and 3 pediatric ICUs).

Results: There were a total of 113 adult and 36 pediatric ICU beds for a population of 30 million, (0.5 ICU beds per 100,000 people). The median number of staffed ICU beds and ventilators were 5 (IQR 4-6), and 4 (IQR 3-5) respectively. There were 2 pediatric and 6 adult intensivists practicing in the country. About half of the ICUs (56%) were staffed solely by non-intensivist providers. While there is adequate nursing support and availability of essential critical care medications, the current financing model for critical care delivery creates a significant barrier for most patients.

Conclusion: Ghana has a significant shortage of critical care beds that are inequitably distributed across the country and a shortfall of intensivists to staff ICUs. A holistic approach that focuses on the key bottlenecks to quality improvement would be required to improve the capacity and quality of critical care delivery.

Keywords: Africa; Critical care; Global critical care; Global health; ICU capacity; Intensive care.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Critical Care*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ghana
  • Hospital Bed Capacity
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric
  • Ventilators, Mechanical