Presidential Advisor on Health, Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare has disclosed that government did all it could to save the life of renowned physician Prof Jacob Plange-Rhule who was being treated for Covid-19.
Prof Plange Rhule in the early hours of Friday, April 10, succumbed to complications from the disease at the University of Ghana Medical Centre where he was on admission.
Speaking on Joy News’ news analysis programme, Newsfile, Dr Nsiah-Asare said Prof Plange-Rhule’s doctor requested for Actemra, a drug used in the treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis to be administered on the physician.
But Actemra until after the request, had not been licensed for use in Ghana.
The only place they could get the drug, Dr Nsiah-Asare indicated, was either in Kenya or South Africa.
For this to be done, an instruction from a higher authority was needed, so President Akufo-Addo was contacted.
He immediately released the Presidential Jet to be used to get the drug into the country as soon as possible.
“We used the Presidential Jet within a matter of 24 hours to and bring the drug but unfortunately by the time it reached here, my good friend was gone,” Dr Nsiah-Asare said.
Prof Plunge-Rhule’s death has hit the medical profession hard. He was a teacher and mentored many doctors in the country.
President Akufo-Addo is not taking this loss or any of the five other Covid-19 deaths lightly.
Dr Nsiah-Asare disclosed that efforts are already being made to license Actemra for the treatment of coronavirus in Ghana.
He said if the drug is administered to coronavirus patients early enough, they will not need ventilators and government is moving to ensure that vials of it are made available in the country in the shortest possible time.
“We are getting some vials to keep and give it to people who are close to the critical phase so they won’t need ventilators,” he indicated.
Ghana’s confirmed cases of coronavirus stands at 378 with six deaths. Four patients have recovered from the disease and 180 are responding to treatment. There are, however, two patients in critical condition, the Ghana Health Service says.
So far, eight regions – Greater Accra, Ashanti, Central, Eastern, Upper East, Upper West, Northern and North East – have recrded cases of the disease.
Greater Accra remains Ghana’s epicenter with over hundred confirmed cases.
Who was Prof Plunge-Rhule?
Prof. Plange-Rhule was a former President of the GMA as well as the Ghana Kidney Association.
He was recently the Head of the Department of Physiology of the School of Medical Sciences, Kumasi and a Consultant Physician in the Department of Medicine, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) where he started the Hypertension and Renal Clinic and oversaw its operations for the past twenty years.
He had also been the Head of Nephrology Services at the KATH prior to taking up the rector appointment. He had over two decades of experience in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education.
According to the online portal of the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons, he had his undergraduate medical training at the School of Medical Sciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
Subsequently, he obtained a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Renal Physiology from the Victorian University of Manchester, UK. Following that, he undertook his residency training in Internal Medicine.
He was a Fellow West Africa College of Physicians; Fellow Ghana College of Physicians and a Fellow Royal College of Physicians, London.
Prof Plange-Rhule had extensive experience in research, particularly, among populations of African origin, in the fields of hypertension, cardiovascular disease and cardiovascular disease epidemiology.
He engaged in several internationally funded research projects and published extensively in these areas.
He also contributed chapters to two books.