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GE’s $14.7m Healthcare Package Eludes Nigeria

Despite its huge business portfolio and robust patronage by the energy sector in Nigeria, GE is not thinking of spending part of the $14.7 million (N3.6 billion) healthcare intervention fund in the country. Rather, the company is looking east, channelling the whole money to East Africa where it plans to build the capacity of local health officials in improving the quality of medical service delivery in the region. According to a statement issued to the African media channels from Nairobi, Kenya ahead of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi, GE announced a series of new commitments aimed at addressing some of the most critical health challenges in East Africa through a sustained focus on skills development and capacity building.

Among the investments, GE announced the establishment of its first-ever dedicated healthcare skills advancement center in Africa, Healthcare Skills and Training Institute in Kenya; and a $1.7 million GE Foundation grant for Biomedical Equipment Training and Safe Surgery programs in Ethiopia. The company outlined in a white paper on Africa Future of Work entitled, Building Strong Workforces to Power Africa’s Growth, Sub- Saharan Africa will need to create an average of 15-20 million new jobs per year over the next three decades to meet the current growth, presenting a considerable challenge to the labor market given the low rates of formal employment.

It pointed out that the global health sector in developing markets is facing critical workforce shortages with Africa ranking the lowest in the availability of health personnel. It noted that Sub-Saharan Africa has only 3% of the world’s health workforce wiith 12% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s burden of diseases. According to the White Paper, the African urbanization story underscores the need for Governments and their partners to invest aggressively in enhancing skills. Presidentand CEO of GE Healthcare Africa, Farid Fezoua, said, “Investing in the training and education of healthcare professionals to strengthen capability building is one of the greatest enablers for sustainable healthcare development. GE Healthcare’s education strategy integrates technology and localization in the design and deployment of tailored education solutions including the establishment of new healthcare training centers, locally configured curricula and a range of education partnerships with leading regional academic institutions and global partners. As a major force for change, we aim to increase access to localized education, training and skills development programs for more healthcare workers across Africa.”

Selected in February 2015 as a key technology and solutions partner by the Kenyan Ministry of Health (MoH) as part of its $ 420 million healthcare transformation plan, GE is committed to supporting knowledge-sharing and capacity building in Kenya and across East Africa, the document stated. As a cornerstone of the mega-modernization program, the company stated it would launch the new GE Healthcare Skills and Training Institute in Kenya, representing a long-term investment of at least $13 million over the next   10 years. “With specialised GE Healthcare training facilities across the globe, the centre is set to become GE’s first dedicated skills development facility in Africa when inaugurated in Nairobi later in Q4 2015 that will serve Kenya and the wider East Africa.

“The GE Healthcare Skills and Training Institute will initially offer biomedical and clinical applications training courses and over the   longer-term will be expanded to offer leadership, technical and clinical education courses, working with the MoH, private healthcare providers and other educational partners, with the goal to train over 1,000 healthcare professionals over the next 3 years. “In East Africa, where there is a significant shortage of qualified healthcare professionals, the localization of vocational and leadership training courses aims to support the development of a pipeline of future biomedical engineers, radiologists and technicians, helping to reduce the skills gap, improve job prospects and build a solid national healthcare system and private healthcare sector. The Kenya training center is part of GE Healthcare’s global commitment to invest over $1 billion in the development and delivery of localized offerings for the healthcare sector, including a new class of technology-enabled training solutions by 2020.

Moreover, as part of this commitment, GE Healthcare aims to deliver enhanced training for over two million health professionals globally that is expected to help healthcare systems drive better patient outcomes and benefit more than 350 million patients worldwide by 2020. GE Foundation’s first Biomedical Equipment Training (BMET) program in Ethiopia responds to the shortage of skilled healthcare workers and functional medical equipment, according to the paper. The BMET Center of Excellence (COE) builds on the success of prior BMET programming in Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, Honduras and Cambodia and expands the commitment by creating a COE within a hospital setting to   translate learning to actual work processes.

The COE “workshop” will set a benchmark for hands-on training and process replication, further strengthening healthcare systems. Training participants will benefit from a wellrounded curriculum including professional management and customer service skills, inhospital clinical application, asset management and financial reporting skills and professional development. This three-year program grant will help fund the development of the training to educate biomedical technicians in Ethiopia to respond to the shortage of functional medical equipment, by focusing on repairing – not replacing – equipment using available resources.

Programs such as these can help local hospitals increase availability of medical equipment – such as incubators for infants – by up to 43% in some cases. With a significant training component, the GE Foundation commitment to improving safe surgery in Ethiopia will be delivered through a new partnership with Lifebox, a non-governmental organization focused on implementation of the WHO Safe Surgical Checklist. This program aims to standardize safe surgery by increasing access to and quality of surgery, reducing surgical complications, and preventing patient deaths in the region. GE Foundation Commission notes that five billion people worldwide do not have access to safe and affordable surgery and anesthesia when they need it, and access is worst in lowand lower-middle income countries, where as many as nine out of ten people cannot access basic surgical care

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