Much-needed medical technology: a hospital for Togo
Much-needed medical technology: a hospital for Togo
Interview with Professor Dagmar Braun, Managing Director, Braun Beteiligungs GmbH
If life has given you many blessings, you should share them with others – and you also need to be a little crazy. That's Professor Dagmar Braun's point of view. She, together with her husband initiated the construction of a hospital in Togo, Africa. The country currently lacks the system required to deliver comprehensive medical care. Surgical equipment and gynecology devices are much-needed to compensate for these deficits.
Professor Dagmar Braun, Managing Director, Braun Beteiligungs GmbH
In this MEDICA-tradefair.com interview, Professor Braun talks about the project that is so dear to her heart, explains where support is still needed and reveals what changes she would like to see in Togo in the future.
Professor Braun, what is the current healthcare situation in Togo? Why is there a need to build a hospital in this part of the world?
Prof. Dagmar Braun: The city of Cinkassé – where the hospital is being built – only has one public hospital in a catchment area of 70,000 residents. The facility merely has one doctor on staff. Cesarean delivery is not an option – even though nearly 600 C-sections are required per 1,000 live births in the hospital. If a hospital is unable to perform a C-section, women have to travel to the nearest hospital that can provide this surgery – yet there is no ambulance service to facilitate transport. We were shocked to hear that. There is also no pediatric department. The children's ward is located in the larger hospital that's farther away. When we saw all these challenges, we knew that this is the best place to build a hospital. To be clear, we don't want to compete with the public hospital. Our goal is to provide targeted options that the other hospital doesn’t have, complement its available services and improve access to better healthcare for the general public.
The hospital is scheduled to open in the first half of the year.
How are you getting on with your project? What progress have you made so far?
Braun: We successfully teamed up with DAZ, the German-African Cooperation Association (Deutsch-Afrikanische Zusammenarbeit). They handle the on-site project management portion, ensuring competent monitoring of the construction. We hosted the groundbreaking ceremony on October 5, 2018, and had the topping ceremony on May 25 last year. Since then, we have continued to build and had an evaluation by the American non-governmental organization CURE in October. Right before Christmas, we were told that the organization has decided to support our endeavor. CURE will furnish us with medical equipment from the U.S., albeit refurbished. That's why we still have to screen and assess these devices. Right now, this is our biggest challenge before we hopefully celebrate our mid-year opening.
There are large deficits in Togo's healthcare system, which are to be compensated in Cinkassé with the construction of the new hospital.
You just mentioned challenges. What other obstacles do you face? What type of support do you need to overcome these hurdles?
Braun: Our first hurdle is to import the containers carrying the generous donation into Togo without having to pay customs duties. We are in touch with the government and hope that we will succeed in making this happen. Next, the equipment will then have to be set up on-site, which means we have to hire and train staff. We also have to ensure regular maintenance of the devices. It doesn't help anyone if we set up equipment that cannot be operated from a technical perspective. But I am very hopeful in this case. CURE is experienced in outfitting hospitals in Africa. The organization knows what's required and what is simply not feasible.
We also need – and that's why I visited MEDICA last year – help and support from medical technology companies who can see themselves supporting us in Africa. Once the CURE donation has arrived, we will check to see what we are still missing. We already expect that the donation will – unfortunately – not cover everything. It is highly likely that we have to buy a used X-ray apparatus and a refurbished CT scan machine in Germany. The benefit here is that we would actually have contacts at the respective companies to ensure device maintenance services. They could in turn train staff in Africa. It would be amazing if medical technology companies got excited and supported our project. Any help and assistance are greatly appreciated.
This is what a donation can look like: The Asklepios Klinik in Hamburg supports the project with hospital beds.
What do you wish for the healthcare system in Togo and other developing countries in the future? How does your project help in this particular aspect?
Braun: In general, I would like to see better living conditions in Africa. If healthcare or education systems are excellent, it eliminates key reasons why people decide to flee their own country due to dire economic circumstances. We want to leverage our expertise and our capabilities to improve the quality of life for the people of Africa to the point where no one has to leave their country to seek medical care elsewhere.
The interview was conducted by Elena Blume and translated from German by Elena O'Meara. MEDICA-tradefair.com