One of the more eye-catching elements of the Algerian government’s public health program has been its radical agenda for the country’s hospitals. Ten brand new University Hospital Centers (CHUs) are to be constructed by 2019, raising the national total to 24, while the existing 14 are set to undergo complete overhauls, bringing them up to international standards. Already the contracts for four of the new CHUs have been awarded to consortia composed of global leaders in their category. What’s more, on top of these considerable monetary investments, Minister Boudiaf has also spoken of his steadfast intent to “spark a veritable revolution in healthcare provision by transforming the manner in which it is delivered.”

Central to this strategy has been the establishment in 2013 of a National Agency for Healthcare Equipment and Management of Health Infrastructures (AREES) specifically tasked with centrally coordinating and optimizing publically funded health sector infrastructural interventions. “Previously it was up to the individual directors of health for each Wilaya, but this decentralised system proved disjointed hence the decision on the part of the Ministry to intervene directly in improving the quality of patient care,” explains Lazhar Bounafa, its director general.

The effect of these changes has been almost immediate. “AREES has adopted a completely fresh approach, taking initiatives that had been long in the pipeline and reconfiguring them as ambitious design-build-operate turnkey projects,” explains Thomas Hinterleitner, regional director for Africa and the Middle East of VAMED, part of the consortium awarded the contract for the new CHU in Constantine. “What they are in effect doing is taking what are normally considered to be thoroughly different segments and blending them into a single holistic project for contracting out. This brings the significant advantage of being able to marry efficiency of design with efficiency of hospital management.”

Another of the selected contractors who applauds the wisdom of this bold approach is Nicholas de Roquefeuil, Bouygues’ director for development in the Maghreb. “If you design a hospital just based on today’s equipment then there is always the risk that your building will become unfit-for-purpose once those technologies become obsolete,” he points out. “What is really ground-breaking for this project is that all the key stakeholders are sitting around the table from the inception phase – from architect to equipment providers to operator to medical practitioner to client – each delivering inputs right from the concept-idea stage. This enables us to generate huge efficiency gains and end up with a very well rounded end product that will be efficient over the entire lifespan,” he declares.

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