28 November 2004

Ethiopia: Korean Opens Hospital in Addis

Pastor Sam Hwan Kim, senior pastor of Myungsung Presbyterian Church of South Korea, came to visit Ethiopia for the first time in 1993 entertaining childhood memories of Ethiopian patriots who participated in the Korean War. During his stay he met Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who asked him to open a hospital in Ethiopia, according to a brochure of Myungsung International Development Plc (MID).

Following that request, MID, the church's company, was registered in Ethiopia in 1996, and it leased a 90,000sqm plot free of charge for 49 years.It has just inaugurated a state of the art hospital, Myungsung Christian Medical Centre (MCM), in the Gerji area to provide "compassionate health care in the name of Jesus Christ".

Tesfaye Mekuria, assistant hospital administrator, told Fortune that MCM spent 37.541 million Br for the construction of the hospital in which Ethiopian engineers participated, under the supervision of their Korean counterparts. Up to 1,000 labourers were employed in the work. Various office equipment, computers, refrigerators and stoves have also been acquired for 3.243 million Br. The hospital has been allocated an initial working capital of 9.6 million Br, according to Tesfaye.

City officials declined to say on what grounds the Korean hospital managed to get land lease free, claiming that it was personal information, although Dr Won Hee Kang, medical director of the hospital, regards the move as helpful to strengthening the ties between Ethiopia and the Republic of Korea.

At a press conference on Wednesday at the Hilton Hotel, Kim Sam-Hwan, said that the hospital aims to charge the rich a 1,000 Br admission fee, while the poor could be entertained for as little as 30 to 50 Br at present. In due course this may become free. He also spoke of his aspirations to recruit cardiology and kidney transplant specialists from abroad in order to carry out treatments that have so far not be done in Ethiopia.

The hospital has far surpassed the minimum requirement regarding the recruitment of staff and fitting out the establishment, said the Addis Ababa City Government Health Bureau. Samson Tekeste, an expert in the Bureau, told Fortune that Myunsung Medical Centre's medical staff included internists, obstetricians and paediatricians in addition to the mandatory surgeons and general practitioners.

He added that 38 Ethiopian and four Korean professionals have been recruited. There are also an additional 35 nurses, 10 physicians, three pharmacists, three x-ray technicians, and three laboratory technicians, according to information from the Centre.

More sophisticated technology, mobile clinic arrangements and foreign specialists will shortly join the hospital which is beginning relatively modestly, according to Dr. Won Hee Kang, medical director of the hospital. That is something Dr Solomon Bekele, an internist for the new hospital, is looking forward to in order to have foreign exposure locally. Dr Solomon says that he is also impressed with the ER annex with its oxygen and suction supplies installed into the walls so that they can be easily and swiftly accessed.

MCM has plans to establish a nursing school and medical college on its vast site, and the Ministry of Health, according to one of its officials, is encouraging MCM to bring in foreign specialists for this purpose.

In the present conditions, Myungsung Medical Centre will care for patients in the areas of internal medicine, surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology and paediatrics, supported by anaesthesia, laboratory and radiological services. It also has an operating theatre, intensive care units, delivery rooms and 99 beds to accommodate in-patients.

The opening ceremony of the hospital, which took place on Thursday, November 25, was attended by President Girma Wolde-Giorgis, His Holiness Abune Paulos, patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, ambassadors, diplomats and other guests.

With MCM opening its first hospital outside Korea in Addis Abeba, the number of privately owned hospitals in the capital has now grown to 17, according to the City's Health Bureau.

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