Patients waiting for medical service at Dessie Referral Hospital

A French agency undertakes the rehabilitation of a public hospital in Dessie, the Amhara Regional State, while federal authorities are yet to disburse financing to back infrastructure reconstruction works in war-affected areas. Expertise France, a French public agency, is carrying out rehabilitation works at Dessie Referral Hospital with 1.5 million euros donated by the French government.

The agency’s experts determined that the Hospital requires a new wastewater treatment plant and water supply system, as well as electrical repairs and machinery supplies. Last Week, Expertise France floated tenders for the supply of medical equipment and hiring of a firm for construction works.

Dessie Referral Hospital provides services to nearly half a million patients annually, including those travelling to Dessie from the neighbouring Tigray and Afar regional states. It is among the largest in the country, with over 1,000 health professionals. It has seen services interrupted as its facilities and equipment suffered damage due to the militarized conflict raging in the north.

Its administrators say essential medicines were looted during the fighting, while the Hospital’s in-house oxygen plant sustained severe damage. They estimate the losses at 2.1 billion Br. The Hospital operates at less than half its capacity and suffers from laboratory and medical equipment shortages, such as x-ray machines and microscopes.

Launched two years ago, the construction of the Dessie Hospital Diagnostic Laboratory Centre has also been put on hold due to budgetary constraints. Less than half of the construction work has been completed. Hospital administrators project up to 110 million Br additional budget to finalise the Centre, where patients can access laboratory services such as CT scans.

“The government budget allocated [for rehabilitation] is insufficient,” said Haimanot Ayele (MD), the hospital’s managing director. “We’re still in search of organisations that could support us.”

Federal authorities placed nearly a dozen public hospitals in Addis Abeba in the rehabilitation works for health centres in the Amhara and Afar regional states. St. Paul Hospital Millennium Medical College was appointed to oversee repair works at Dessie Referral Hospital.

St. Paul’s administrators sent a team of physicians, nurses, specialists, and technical staff to Dessie to re-initiate emergency and essential services. The group supported restoring in-patient wards and emergency rooms. St. Paul’s also donated medical equipment and supplies valued at nearly 45 million Br.

“We helped the Hospital start dialysis treatments,” said Abel Tesfaye (MD), assistant provost surgeon.

Dessie Referral Hospital is one of 40 public hospitals partially or completely damaged in the Amhara Regional State, disclosed Gizachew Muluneh, communications head for the regional administration. Over 450 health centres and 1,000 rural health posts shared a similar fate.

The Ministry of Finance has allocated 20 billion Br for public infrastructure rehabilitation projects. Health centres and schools in war-affected areas are to be the primary beneficiaries. However, the funding has yet to leave federal coffers.

“The funds will be disbursed when affected entities submit project proposals,” said Tilahun Wolde, the Ministry’s budget director.

Health officials foresee the spending on rehabilitation could surpass the initial estimate of 20 billion Br as health centres remain at risk in some areas.

PUBLISHED ON Oct 01,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1170]

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