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The Government Is Not Giving Out Free Blood Pressure Monitors and Phones

Photo Credit: YouTube 3 mins read

CLAIM: The government is giving out free, blood pressure monitors and Samsung Galaxy phones at government hospitals, interviewee claims.

FALSE: Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and John Hopkins University are giving select participants the gadgets; as part of an ongoing research study to test an intervention in some health facilities in the Ashanti region. Hence, the initiative is not government driven; aside from ethical approval given by the Ministry of Health.

Full Text:

Sitting on a bed with a smile on her face, a woman picks up a Blood Pressure Monitor and a Samsung Galaxy A2 and says:

“Nana Addo is giving out these (pointing to monitor and phone). I am surprised you say you do not know about it”

Video Excerpt

In the 5-minute video, the woman and the man who played the role of an interviewer heaped praises on the president and his government for caring for the sick and for improving the health sector.

The interviewee said a visit to Suntreso Government Hospital got her the touted gadgets. Apparently, she was told the government was giving out for free Blood Pressure Monitors and phones to patients with high blood pressure. This was part of the project the government was undertaking. Patients had to check their blood pressure and relay the results each morning to the hospital; through an application installed on the phones.

She also claimed the project is being undertaken only in government hospitals.

Verification

Our verification started at the Suntreso Government Hospital. Our investigation led us to the front desk officer, Foster; he told us that no such project was ongoing. However, he informed us of the ongoing collaboration between the Okomfo Anokye Teaching Hospital and the Suntreso Hospital. The initiative affords enrolled patients free blood pressure monitors and phones. We tried reaching out to the Public Relations Officer at the Hospital for more details; but could not get a hold of him/her.

Our next point of call was the Okomfo Anokye Teaching Hospital; there we met the Head of the Public Relations Unit at Hospital, Mr Kwame Frimpong. He confirmed that the hospital was giving out blood pressure monitors and phones to patients; but only to selected patients who have been enlisted unto an ongoing research project. 

“Because they need to forward their BP readings to the project office through that phone. So it’s not like everybody you go and they give you a phone” 

Mr. Frimpong

Next, we met Dr Sarfo, a neurologist at the Okomfo Anokye Teaching Hospital and lead investigator of the research project. He said the study is a collaboration between the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and the John Hopkins University in the United States of America. 

“Currently, it is KNUST and John Hopkins but we have the blessing of the Ashanti Regional Health Directorate,” he said.

He explained that the objective of the study is to test an intervention to ascertain its feasibility in the Ghanaian setting.

“It’s a research study and for the research study, we are testing an intervention utilising a mobile phone and a BP device that patients can use at home basically and relay the information to clinicians to make a decision whether their BP is okay or not. So it’s a research study”

Dr Sarfo

The study is being undertaken in four hospitals in the Ashanti region:

  • Okomfo Anokye Teaching Hospital; 
  • Suntreso Government Hospital; 
  • Kumasi South Hospital; 
  • Manhyia Hospital.

The project commenced February this year and is expected to end in 2021.

“I saw the video and there is nothing factual about it. We are not just dashing mobile phones
“ You have to qualify – you have to be hypertensive, your BP should be uncontrollable and then we test whether the intervention will work”

Dr. Sarfo

Conclusion: 

The government is not giving out free BP monitors and Samsung phones as claimed in a video. KNUST and John Hopkins University are giving select participants the gadgets; as part of an ongoing study to test an intervention in some health facilities in the Ashanti region.

Caroline Anipah is the Programme Officer of DUBAWA, Ghana. She holds an MPhil in Communication Studies and an undergraduate degree in English and Political Science from the University of Ghana. She is a trained journalist and has engaged in various research activities with notable institutions including Ghana Statistical Service, German Development Institute (GIZ) and the USAID Evaluate for Health over the years. She has also worked with the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) on a regional (West Africa-wide) comprehensive research on the state of the media. She brings to the project and team, her experience in both media and research.

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