A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Ministry of Public Health and BRS Ventures, a UAE-based company, has been signed in the presence of President Ashraf Ghani over the semi-privatization of two Kabul hospitals.
The agreement signed will see BRS Ventures take over the operations and management of Wazir Akbar Khan Hospital and Sheikh Zayed Hospital and also the establishment of a pharmaceutical manufacturing company.
According to BRS Ventures, the two hospitals will be operated and managed by BRS Ventures healthcare brand, BR Life.
BRS Ventures said the aim is to enhance the public healthcare infrastructure in Kabul under a public-private partnership model and the MoU will be executed in two phases – first will involve the 82-bed Sheikh Zayed Hospital and the second phase will involve the 210-bed Wazir Akbar Khan Hospital.
Wazir Akbar Khan hospital is a specialized facility in the heart of the city that treats over 72,000 patients annually.
As part of the agreement, BRS Ventures will completely refurbish and rebrand both hospitals.
Dr BR Shetty, Founder and Chairman of BRS Ventures said after the signing ceremony: “I am thrilled that we have an opportunity to invest in Afghanistan. My motto in life has always been to serve mankind. I am deeply grateful to Ashraf Ghani, the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, for trusting us and giving us an opportunity to improve the healthcare facilities in the country.
“I consider it my good fortune and with Allah’s blessings, I will ensure that we wholeheartedly enhance the public healthcare infrastructure in Kabul,” he said.
Ferozuddin Feroz, Afghanistan’s Minister of Public Health, welcomed the decision and said: “I am delighted to welcome BRS Ventures into Afghanistan. Dr Shetty and his team have an excellent track record in the healthcare sector through their New Medical Centre (NMC) Hospitals, BR Life Hospitals and Neopharma – pharmaceutical manufacturing company.
“This is a significant milestone in the healthcare sector in Afghanistan. We will provide all the required support to BRS Ventures to ensure that our citizens lives are enhanced immensely.”
Feroz also said that there was a chance that within the next 15 years a large medical training and health care facility would also be built, which would boast state-of-the-art medical equipment.
“Wazir Akbar Khan and Shaikh Zayed hospitals and the pharmaceutical company will be handled as a public-private partnership with the company that has international accreditation. But it does not mean the staff at Wazir Akbar Khan Hospital will lose their jobs,” said Feroz.
Afghan Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Abdul Farid Zikria, who was present at the signing ceremony, noted that the embassy under the instructions of the president has initiated contact with various UAE based investors to attract their investments into Afghanistan.
“We have been in discussions with Dr. Shetty and his team for the past two years, and today is a significant step forward in our efforts to establish world class health facilities in Afghanistan. The MOU with BRS Ventures is a key milestone in modernizing the Afghan Healthcare Sector. There is a lot of hard work ahead of us, however both sides are committed to bringing fundamental changes to the health services in the country” added Zikria.
A number of doctors at Wazir Akbar Khan Hospital were not however happy about this development and said handing over the services of the hospital was a bad move.They said if BRS Ventures wanted to invest in Afghanistan, it should rather build a new hospital.
“We will give them land, then they can build a hospital and offer their services, but they should not take control of such a big and well-equipped hospital,” Mohammad Sharif, a doctor at Wazir Akbar Khan Hospital said.
Kabul residents also reacted to the news and criticized the public health ministry for “handing over” the hospitals to a private company.
The residents also said if the company wants to provide health services, they should invest in new health care facilities rather than take over existing government hospitals.
“Wazir Akbar Khan Hospital is a well-equipped hospital and has created lots of facilities for the people,” one Kabul resident said.
Based on Afghanistan law, medical services at government health facilities are free, but government believes that by privatizing or semi-privatizing health care facilities, the quality of medical care will improve.
BRS Ventures has evolved from a humble healthcare center in 1975 in Abu Dhabi to a vibrant and eminent conglomerate in the Middle East. It provides innovative solutions in Healthcare, Financial Services, Pharmaceuticals, Education, Hospitality and Infrastructure industries, and has earned itself the reputation as the premium business group in the United Arab Emirates. The company has also established a global presence with successful acquisitions and strong partnerships.