US company GE embarks on a multi million healthcare project in Africa

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US engineering firm, General Electric (GE), has announced plans to upgrade healthcare facilities in 10 African states. Under the project, the company has targeted a total of 81 healthcare facilities in ten countries including; Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Malawi, Mali, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda, for upgrade under a US$10 million infrastructure upgrade which are at various stages of completion.

The funds would be used to provide the healthcare facilities with a mixture of healthcare products, infrastructure and training programmes on how to plan and improve healthcare delivery services in Africa, GE said in a statement Wednesday.

The programme, dubbed ‘Developing Health Globally’, is targeting eight health clinics and district hospitals in Nyanza province in Kenya, with work scheduled for completion later this year, GE said.

The President and CEO of GE Middle East and Africa, Nabil Habayeb, said the programme was complete and running in four facilities, including Nyanza Regional, Siaya, Sauri and Yala, all in Kenya. “In total, 12 health facilities, including referral and district hospitals, maternity and dispensaries will have been completed by the end of 2008,” Habayeb said.

In Kenya, it is expected that the programme will boost medical services in selected facilities through provision of an inclusive solution covering donation of healthcare equipment, water provision, energy, communications and infrastructure development.

GE will also equip health laboratories with essential products, and provide equipment for patient monitoring, mother-infant care, surgery and radiology. The programme will also equip the health facilities with reliable communication and infrastructure by providing wireless communication equipment and its accessories, water purification and signaling systems, generators for provision of power and appliances including refrigerators and Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) gadgets.

The programme started in 2004 as a US$2 million product donation investment in rural African communities, with the level of assistance graduating in 2005 to US$4 million. In 2006, the level of assistance increased again to US$6 million, through a cooperative partnership called “GE Millennium District Hospitals”, designed to complete upgrade work in more than 30 hospitals and clinics in Africa. By 2007, 123 hospitals in Africa had been upgraded with 13 other projects initiated in Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Rwanda and Senegal.

The 130-year-old company has been in Africa since 1898 and is focusing on its strongest link within the region – supplying various hi-tech infrastructure products, services and training. Its key businesses in Africa include healthcare, energy, aviation, oil and gas, rail transportation, water technologies and commercial aviation services. The company is currently active in more than 35 countries in Africa with strategic alliances in major markets.

Health file  The lack of education and political will, poverty, out-moded traditional beliefs, to mention but a few, have been widely blamed for causing severe and sometimes unwarranted health catastrophies of genocidal proportions on the African continent. Child killer diseases, malaria, tuberculosis, water borne diseases, HIV/AIDS, among other preventable ailments have killed millions in their wake. As rightly said by the former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, on May 13, 2000 "More people (...) died of Aids in the past year (1999-2000, ndlr) in Africa than in all the wars on the continent".
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