Remarks by Ambassador Robert P. Jackson at the launch of Ridge Hospital

Good morning and greetings to the many honored guests who have joined us.

Since my arrival in Ghana more than a year ago, I’ve been pleased to witness the progress that has been made at this facility — I feel a bit like a proud parent today.

The opening of the newly renovated Greater Accra Regional Hospital at Ridge marks an important milestone in the history of health care — not only in Ghana, but in West Africa.  Furthermore, our celebration today is proof that the business relationship between Ghana and the United States continues to strengthen and grow.

The Ridge Hospital Complex has served the people of Ghana since 1928.  It stands out as one of Ghana’s primary health care facilities.  Over 90 years, though, populations grow and change, and our institutions must, as well.  In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, GE Healthcare, the Ghana Ministry of Health and the U.S. government committed to upgrading and rehabilitating this facility — more than tripling its capacity, to 620 beds.  The Export-Import Bank of the United States financed more than $155 million dollars of the cost of the design and construction of the project.  Totaling more than 456,000 square feet, it will be the largest hospital in the country.

I said “grow and change,” and that also means that we need to think about how our buildings interact with the environment and how they use our precious energy resources.  In December, Ridge Hospital was awarded LEED Silver certification.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with LEED certification, it stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.  Worldwide, it’s the most widely used third-party certification for green buildings — buildings that are sustainable and resource efficient.  Thanks to that December designation, this facility is now the first LEED-certified hospital on the African continent. What a tremendous accomplishment for Ghana and for those involved in the design and construction of this project — and I specifically want to note the work of Perkins+Will, Bouyges and Americaribe here.  Their ability to think creatively and adapt their work to Ghana’s circumstances helped make this project a success.

Two more American companies, GE Healthcare and Symx, worked together to supply equipment for the hospital.  In fact, the Greater Accra Regional Hospital at Ridge houses the single largest installation of GE Healthcare equipment in Ghana — that includes things like MRI and CT scanners, ultrasound and x-ray machines, and a radiology information system to assist with the entire patient experience, from scheduling to billing.  The result is a hospital equipped to provide the full continuum of care across radiology, maternal and infant care, cardiology and surgery.

GE is a well-known presence in West Africa and has demonstrated over and over again its commitment to the African continent.  The company has even committed 6 billion dollars to what it calls healthymagination — an initiative that strives to increase access to high-quality medical care to more people, at lower costs.  GE’s work across Africa is contributing to the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals regarding maternal and under-five mortality.

I am particularly impressed with GE’s focus on building capacity — incorporating local partners, local management and local know-how.  The GE team in Ghana believes that good public-private partnerships are the most important drivers of sustainable healthcare systems.  I could not agree more.

I’ve mentioned a few of the American companies that have provided tremendous support in building this state-of-the-art hospital, and I want to be sure to note a few more: Thornton Tomasetti; Bard, Rao + Athanas Consulting Engineers; American Standard; Sherwin Williams; Terex; Hewlett Packard and CISCO all contributed to this achievement.

As demonstrated today, we can mobilize the resources of both our governments to address healthcare industry constraints.  Over the past year, we have spent much time in dialogue with the Ghanaian government, and with stakeholders, regarding how we can have the greatest strategic impact.

This brings me to a major priority of the U.S.-Ghana partnership:  eliminating constraints to economic growth and ensuring broad-based, sustainable growth in Ghana.  The development of this hospital has and will provide economic opportunities to both Ghanaians and Americans.  I’ve spoken about the successes for the American companies involved, but let’s not overlook the fact that approximately 2,000 Ghanaians were involved in this construction.  The existing hospital has a total staff of about 654. When it is fully operational, this number will go up to nearly 1,500.

I’m often asked why the United States cares about Ghana’s economic growth, Ghana’s health, and Ghana’s stability.  It’s very simple.  Ghana’s success benefits Ghana — and the United States.  We share the goal of a stable, financially thriving Ghana — a Ghana with a healthy and educated populace that can fully participate in the global economy and global security.

We support the Government of Ghana’s commitment to private sector-led growth.  We believe it will translate into economic prosperity for Ghanaians and that, in turn, provides opportunities for U.S. citizens and companies.  It’s not a zero-sum game.  We can — and will — succeed together.

Thank you for your attention today.  I am so pleased to play a role in bringing world-class health care to Ghana’s citizens.