The first Africa Ecomedical Village (EMV) Limited has been launched in Accra, which when completed, would provide quality healthcare delivery to Ghanaians and other ECOWAS countries.
The state-of-the-art facility, on public private partnership basis, would be built at Achimota in Accra with some areas of specialisation to be located throughout the ECOWAS Sub-Region.
The project envisions the setting up of specialty centres of excellence in each of ECOWAS member country to treat and manage specific illnesses.
The first phase of the $476 million project is expected to have a Reference Centre for various diseases, research facilities, sports medicine, disaster management centre and women and children hospital.
Mr Peter Ahiekpor, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the EMV, said he came up with the project because people travelled outside Ghana for medical check-ups with its attendant costs, which would have remained in Ghana if such facilities were available.
He said his own experiences of travelling to the United Kingdom every six months for medical check-up, coupled with his findings that Nigeria spent 26 million dollars per month to seek medical services in India, has urged him to bring the project to reality.
Mr Ahiekpor said the project is expected to be completed within 26 months and expressed the hope that it would put Ghana on the map as a destination for global health tourism.
He said after completion, the project would create about 5000 jobs, and also create over 899 million dollars in terms of tax revenue for the country through SSNIT contributions, corporate taxes and Pay As You Earn.
Mr Ahiekpor assured the public that there were plans to cater for both middle and upper level income groups to access quality health service at the hospital.
“It has not been an easy journey, we had lots of challenges and discouragement along the way, but we’re grateful to God for how far he has brought us and the project,” he said, and urged all and sundry to own and support the project to achieve its goals.
He, therefore, thanked everybody that supported the project in diverse ways to bring it to fruition.
Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, the Senior Minister, urged the team to employ skilled professionals to man the hospital.
He said: “Beautiful buildings don’t bring quality health delivery to the people but it takes skilled professionals with adequate knowledge in modern diagnoses and cure to make the mark.
“Government will not go and look for the money for private businesses but will do all that it takes to create the enabling environment for private businesses to thrive.”
He said the project was to challenge Ghana to take the lead in medicine in the West Africa Sub-Region.
The Senior Minister urged the partners not to be limited by the challenges and difficulties and pledged government’s support to help them overcome such difficulties.
Mr Kweku Botwe, the Managing Director of EMV, said the project would improve functional independence, productivity, reduce and manage medical complications, provide lower long-term costs, high-quality staff with focused experience, and peer support from patients with similar ailments.
Other benefits, he said, include specialised patients and family education as well as resources, more options to participate in research studies, access to services not found in most rehabilitation centres, specialised long-term support and training opportunities for medical personnel in the Sub-Region.
Mr Kinsley Aboagye Gyedu, a Deputy Minister of Health, said nothing suited them at the Ministry than recognition of the private sector as a partner in providing quality health care.
He said the project fell within the vision of the Government to promote medical tourism in Ghana.
Mr Gyedu said the Ministry’s five-year strategic plan had medical tourism as one of the medium-term plans, which encouraged public-private partnership.
He said apart from improving on the country’s infrastructure, the project would increase the revenue base of the Government and commended the team for bringing the project to Ghana.
Dr Kwabena Twum Nuamah, the Chairman of Parliamentary Select Committee on Health, was grateful to the promoters of the project for choosing Ghana to host it.
He said he had no doubt that the best form of the medical facility in any part of the world would be in Ghana and expressed the hope that, when completed, healthcare delivery would change in Ghana.
“Ghanaians deserve better health facility and never again will Ghanaians travel outside for medical treatment,” he said.
Togbe Sri III, the Overlord of Anlo State, commended the team for their efforts adding that it would create more jobs, promote skills training and tourism in the Sub-Region.
He commended Nii Tackie Teiko Tsuru II, the Ga Mantse, for his interest in the project, which led to the releasing of land for its construction.
Nii Tsuru, on his part, said the culture of non-maintenance in Ghana and Africa in general affected all projects and pleaded with stakeholders to ensure that there were proper maintenance plans in all departments of the hospital.