The female ward of the Tetteh Quarshie Memorial Hospital at Mampong Akuapem in the Eastern Region has become a rat city, with rodents from all walks of life making themselves at home among human patients.
A video of rat life in the hospital recorded by a patient who wanted to share the terrifying memories has gone viral on social media.
“…look, I came here for medical care but see who am sharing company with; rats. They play with us here all the time; they together with the nurses,” the narrator explained as she filmed the rats in the ward.
Some of the rodents looked as big as well-fed cats and could stand their ground against any cat.
The Tetteh Quarshie memorial hospital is one of the many public hospitals under the Ministry of Health. It was founded in 1929 and named after one of Ghana’s illustrious sons, Tetteh Quasrhie, who is celebrated for introducing cocoa to Ghana from Fernando Po , now Bioko in Equatorial Guinea.
The shocking state of insanitary conditions is a reflection of a general problem of the failure of the Akufo Addo administration to prioritise the health sector in its first term.
What is ironic is that, though the hospital is supposed to be a place for health care, the rat infestation means that patients are actually at higher risk of diseases as rats are known to be vectors of dangerous diseases, including the plague that decimated hundreds of thousands in Europe during the Middle Ages.
Humans can get infected through bites or scratches by rats. Up to 10% of rat bites may result in rat-bite fever.
Also, rats cause Leptospirosis, a disease caused by bacteria called Leptospira that infects both humans and a wide range of animals. It is passed on through contact with rat urine. Some people infected with leptospirosis will have no symptoms at all, and some people will become severely ill.
Another disease risk from rats is Salmonellosis which is a bacterial infection of the intestines caused by a group of bacteria called Salmonella. The bacteria are shed in the stool of infected animals and humans. Infection can happen when a person eats food or drinks water or milk that has been contaminated with Salmonella bacteria.
Rats can also cause Monkeypox which is a disease caused by a virus found in monkeys and other animals such as rats, mice and rabbits.
In Africa, Monkeypox kills between one and ten percent of people who get it and there is no specific treatment; but there is a vaccine available that lowers the risk of getting the disease.