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New healthcare partnerships beckon for Africa

The burgeoning population of African countries is faced with many challenges - health, food security, education, conflicts, etc. The poor health status of citizens across the continent in the term of disease burden, quality of health services and access of public health system have been taunting humanitarian suffering.

Now, all stakeholders – Governments, academia, Development partners, National and International NGOs, Hospital Equipment suppliers, Health and Hospital Consultants got together under the banner of Pan African Health Congress 2007 at the recently concluded event PAH – 2007 at Sandston Johannesburg on 18 – 19 September 2007. Visitors and stakeholders were pleasantly surprised to see a dominating presence of Hosmac India Private Limited, a Mumbai headquartered organisation, having pan-India and Middle East presence.

Since its inception in 1996, HOSMAC has grown rapidly to become a unique hub of skills which cuts across various facets of healthcare facilities and systems ranging from Hospital Planning & Architecture, Project Management, Hospital Equipment procurement, Quality Assurance, Public Health Consultancy, Financial & Management studies, Training, Monitoring and evaluation studies. The organisation has been in the forefront of health sector revolution in Indian Sub-continent. They have been proactively supporting various health initiatives, Governments, Corporate houses and International Organisations like World Bank, European Commission, UNICEF, etc.

So, why Africa?

In a logical sequence of the furtherance of its vision ‘be a leading facilitator of quality healthcare worldwide', the HOSMAC is looking towards the Health Systems of African countries. Hospitals are an integral part of the health systems. With unique skill sets available with HOSMAC, the organisation is uniquely poised to take a holistic view of Health & Hospital Systems and meet the demands of health sector, across Africa. ‘Health needs of Africa in many ways very similar to that on Asia.' Added Vikram Anand, General Manager-Operations.

The organisation is keen to start its operations in the region and is open to strategic alliances with local partners for developing synergy in the region. ‘We feel that it is important to establish a strong relationship with local partners, who have in-depth knowledge of experience of the region. The demand for healthcare infrastructure development in Africa looks very strong' says Satish Kumar, Manager – Business Development

Uday Kumar, Manager, Projects – Middle East felt that African continent identifies well with the Middle East. ‘There is one major difference between the African and Indian situation,' says Uday, ‘and this is in the emphasis; in Africa it is on HIV/AIDS and related issues; in India – as we have a far lower incidence of HIV/AIDS – it is more on combating child mortality & safe motherhood in rural India.'

Wherever the company has been involved, it has applied the same principle with success – and that is to work along with the local partners and the community to understand & establish the needs of the community… The nature and extent of the health issues that the community faces and hence the number of beds and other facilities that will be required – that is to determine the size of the facility required.

‘The key is for hospitals to become more efficient…the shorter the stay, the sooner a patient is discharged – and that bed then becomes available for another needy patient,' says Uday. He added that sometimes a recovered patient is not released simply because the staff is so overworked that they cannot get around to finally checking the patient out - and that means that bed is occupied needlessly for an extra time which otherwise could go to the needy.

‘Hence we pay a lot of attention to the systems and processes to ensure that efficiency is achieved, without sacrificing any aspect of patient safety or wellbeing,' he says. A more efficient operation also brings other benefits: since staff workloads are essentially lightened, stresses are reduced and issues such as absenteeism among staff are reduced; all in all, a win-win situation.

An important aspect of Hosmac's work is in the working towards ‘theme' or ‘concept' hospitals that are ‘baby friendly' or ‘mother friendly', for instance.

‘The fact is that if a mother is happy in a hospital, then she will recommend it to other women, and she will bring her family to the same hospital,' says Vikram.

So, why use an event in South Africa as a venue to launch an entry into Africa? Essentially, South Africa is the place to start as it has the infrastructure that will support ventures in the rest of Africa, and hence is it a convenient springboard into the rest of the continent.

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