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La Paz: World-Class Healthcare at Reasonable Rates. Photo: Sam Dean
EGVistas Magazine
La Paz
World-Class Healthcare at Reasonable Rates
EGVistas MagazineEGVistas Magazine

La Paz (Photo: Sam Dean)For the first-time visitor to Equatorial Guinea, one of the pleasant surprises is the discovery of world-class healthcare facilities in Malabo and Bata. In fact, the first structures you see when you drive from Malabo to the newly-developed Sipopo conference and leisure area are the buildings of Centro Medico La Paz Sipopo.

Opened in 2011, this medical center is a model of modern healthcare, built and operated by the Israeli company International Medical Services (IMS). The complex includes a fully equipped, 156-bed hospital, a 36-room hotel to house families of patients, and a residential area for the 150 expatriate medical and management staff who work there. There is even a school offering Hebrew-language education for the children of Israeli personnel.

The international staff is complemented by 300 Equatoguineans, including six doctors. The long-term plan is to provide training for locals, so that bit by bit they can take over the full operation of the facility. “We are here to provide healthcare and to transfer knowledge to the next generation of Equatoguineans,” says CEO Michael Averbukh, a medical doctor from Israel.

Averbukh says that the La Paz facility provides “ninety-seven to ninety- eight percent of all the medical needs that patients come with.” Treatments not provided are open heart surgery and oncology.

Considering the limited financial resources of many of the patients, La Paz offers very reasonable rates for its services. A medical consultation with a specialist, including X-rays and blood work, costs just $15-30, depending on the illness. A maternity program that includes pregnancy monitoring and birth at the facility costs families just $400.

But even those who can’t afford to pay, get treatment. “We have never declined services to anyone,” Averbukh says.

The La Paz center at Sipopo is part of a nation-wide chain of medical facilities built and operated by IMS, under contract to the government. The first, a 120-bed hospital, was established in Bata, and works closely with the medical school there. A third is being built in Oyala, and a brand new hospital built and equipped by IMS was inaugurated earlier this year in Mongomo. The facility boasts the country’s first MRI, among other state-of-the-art devices.

As part of its educational program, La Paz is educating 10 specialists in Cuba, and two local managers will get training in Israel.

Averbukh says that running La Paz is his first experience of working in Africa. He expected to find a desert, but “what you see is a paradise. Very warm people and great collaboration.”

Averbukh says he is impressed with the development taking place throughout the country. “I’m seeing tremendous change wherever I look… a country that truly wants to develop rapidly.”

La Paz (Photos: Sam Dean)

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