FRIDAY December 10, 2021
By Adam Ihucha
The Tranquility News Correspondent, Tanzania
Better days for chronic disease patients are in the offing, thanks to the Arusha Lutheran Medical Centre (ALMC) and the Aga Khan Hospital based in Dar Es Salaam for devising a homegrown lasting solution.
In their painstaking efforts to ease the plight of patients seeking treatment abroad, the ALMC and the Aga Khan Hospital recently signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to create a synergy between the two world-class medical care facilities. Their overarching goal is to foster provision of global standards healthcare services to patients with chronic disease.
The MoU signed by the ALMC and the Aga Khan Health Services chief executive officers, Mr Elisha Twisa, and Mr Sisawo Konteh, respectively, shows the key private hospitals will also collaborate in providing professional referral and other specialists’ healthcare-related services.
To be precise, both health facilities have agreed to cooperate in quality assurance and accreditation procedures in order to uplift ALMC into a full-fledged centre of excellence, specialised healthcare services and exchange programmes as well as in advanced clinical service delivery and referral programmes.
Other key areas of collaboration cover capacity building and training, research and development, resource mobilisation that includes project designs and business development as well as outreach programmes, the MoU reads in part.
The essence of this MoU, among others, is to relieve the chronic disease patients of the burden of seeking treatment abroad, as from now on they will be treated either at ALMC in Arusha or at Aga Khan Hospital in Dar Es Salaam. We are going to offer them a cutting-edge medical care with the global benchmarks to ease the country’s medical tourism bill,” the ALMC CEO, Mr Elisha Twisa.
Aga Khan hospital offers trainings for medical doctors to be specialists in international medicine, second family medicine, third general surgeries, fourth obstetrics and gynecology as well as fifth pediatrics.
“The essence of this MoU, among others, is to relieve the chronic disease patients of the burden of seeking treatment abroad, as from now on they will be treated either at ALMC in Arusha or at Aga Khan Hospital in Dar Es Salaam.
“We are going to offer them a cutting-edge medical care with the global benchmarks to ease the country’s medical tourism bill,” said the ALMC CEO.
Indeed, the annual medical tourism bill for the East African region, Tanzania inclusive, stands at $150 million, up from $60 million in 2010, with the majority of patients seeking heart, kidney, complex surgeries and cancer treatment.
“This kind of pollination partnership will guarantee patients the highest quality healthcare services of international standards within the country and will lower the medical tourism bill. With the professional exchange of best practises, it’s possible,” Mr Twisa explained.
Lately, ALMC has become a role model in the delivery of quality neonatal care, as it has been attracting several local hospitals and more so African countries that send their medical personnel to replicate its best practices, thus raising the country’s profile high as well as complimenting the government’s drive on medical tourism.
Within a five-year stint, the survival rate for extremely premature babies and critically ill newborns at the ALMC Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) has exceeded 92 per cent, the highest ratio ever in history.
Mr Twisa said the ALMC was well equipped with state-of-the-art equipment coupled with qualified healthcare staff, including 21 medical specialists, the highest number indeed compared to its peers.
The hospital runs an advanced emergency medicine department, performing laparoscopic surgeries, Nephrology and Dialysis, Neurosurgery, Obstetrics and Gynaecology and a well-equipped NICU, Orthopedics, Radiology that include CT-Scanning and palliative care, among others.
On his part, the Aga Khan Health Services CEO, Mr Konteh, termed the MoU as a critical milestone in healthcare service provision, as it brings the two world-class private hospitals together to complement each other in their quest for offering the highest quality of specialised health care for Tanzanians.
“We are looking forward to witnessing a very fruitful collaboration in healthcare service provision. This agreement will be a game changer in driving the country’s medical tourism,” Mr Konteh noted.
Dr Frank Madinda, the ALMC Director of Clinical Services, affirmed that with the pact in place, the majority of chronic disease cases would be treated within the country.
“ALMC is located at the heart of Arusha, the designated East African tourism hub. With the Aga Khan Hospital cooperation, we are best positioned to serve tourists and diplomats than ever before and realise President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s initiative of medical tourism,” Dr Madinda explained.
The Aga Khan Hospital in Dar es Salaam was established in 1964 as a multi-specialty 74-bed hospital, offering Tanzanians quality healthcare.
In 2018, the expansion of the hospital transformed the institution into a world-class health care facility. A leading 170-bed teaching and tertiary care referral hospital enabled it to provide a significantly higher level of specialised care, combining cutting-edge technology with highly skilled human resources.
The hospital facilities provide advance clinical programmes in cardiology, oncology, neuro sciences, critical care (including neo-natal critical care) and maternal and child health.
Relevant diagnostics, integrated operating rooms and a sophisticated accident and emergency department support all specialties.
It is understood, the Aga Khan Hospital in Dar es Salaam is the only hospital in Tanzania with the prestigious gold standard quality accreditation from Joint Commission International (JCI) as well as ISO 9001 for complying with strict criteria such as in-patient safety, delivery of clinical care and overall patient support.