Building 'bridges of friendship' in Tanzania,
the Indian way
Paying tribute to the achievements of around
40,000 persons of Indian origin and Indian businessmen in
Tanzania, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh lauded their
"entrepreneurial spirit" and said they were "a bridge of
friendship" with this East African nation that an Indian prime
minister was visiting after 14 years.
Salaam: It's a heart-to-heart affair. With more
Tanzanians suffering from a variety of heart ailments and
travelling abroad for treatment, India's Apollo Hospitals Friday
struck a pact to set up a 300-bed super-specialty hospital in this
coastal metropolis of East Africa's largest country.
Hospitals Enterprises Limited, in the presence of Indian Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete,
signed a preliminary joint venture agreement with the Board of
Trustees of Tanzania's National Social Security Fund and the
Ministry of Health and Social Welfare for setting up the hospital.
"We are excited about our new venture in Tanzania. It should be of
great help to people here," C. Prathap Reddy, chairman of Apollo
Hospitals, told IANS.
Initially, one hospital will be set up in Dar es Salaam, with a
plan for Apollo Hospitals to send their doctors to train medical
personnel in this country of 42 million people. The hospital will
be completed in 18 months, said Reddy.
The agreement evoked an enthusiastic response from the Tanzanian
president, who made a pitch to Apollo for opening five more
hospitals in the country's other cities.
"We do not have the capacity to treat heart diseases, open heart
surgery, cancer, kidney problems and neurosurgery. Many people
have to travel abroad for treatment. With a hospital here, it will
be much more affordable," Kikwete said at a joint press conference
with Manmohan Singh.
"Right now, Tanzanians spend $70-80 million for treatment abroad.
Now, they do not have to go out," Kikwete said when asked what
benefits this agreement will bring to Tanzanians.
Thousands of Tanzanians travel to India for low-cost treatment
every year and the number is increasing. "If anyone is going to
India, one thinks he is going there for some serious health
problem," said Bilham, a Tanzanian journalist.
Giving a new twist to the much-touted competition between India
and China in Africa, Kikwete said the Chinese have built a
hospital here where Indian doctors are working and also providing
training. "Now, India is building a hospital here. We can send
more doctors and nurses for training to India," he said.
Heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Tanzania
after malaria, claiming 287 lives a day or 104,755 lives a year,
according to the Tanzanian Cardiac Hospital Foundation. "In the
whole of Tanzania, there is no successful specialized cardiac
treatment facility. Twenty percent of all the deaths here stem
from lack of medical facilities and poverty. Those who can afford
treatment must travel out of the country," says the foundation.
Tanzanian teenagers are at high risk of suffering from heart
diseases, which some experts say now attack those aged between 12
and 19 years.
(Manish Chand can be
contacted at email@example.com)