ANGOLA - Health & Education
CEO, Clínica Sagrada Esperança (CSE)
Rui Veiga Pinto graduated in medicine from the University of Lisbon and has been a specialist in public health since 1985. He is a retired military doctor (brigadier) and is also an associate professor at the faculty of medicine at Universidade Agostinho Neto. He has been chairman of the management board of CSE since 1995.
Present in 16 provinces of Angola, CSE is currently the largest health entity in Angola.
What is the mission and vision of CSE?
CSE is not totally a private company, although it works as a healthcare company managed on a corporate basis. The owner of CSE, is Endiama, a state-owned company. CSE’s mission is fundamentally to provide quality healthcare services to its clients.
CSE has strong ties with Endiama as well as a number of companies in Angola’s oil and gas sector. How have these collaborations gone over the years?
We have faced certain challenges over the years, such as the difficult situation in Angola after independence, but they have been overcome. With the oil companies, we have maintained a close collaboration since 1995. Other important clients are insurance firms and other clinics, as well. In fact, we are in the process of negotiation with certain companies to expand our partnerships. As soon as the COVID-19 crisis and the economic and financial crises associated with it are over, we will gain more customers. So, the prospects are there for growth in 2022 and 2023.
How important are partnerships with insurance companies in order to provide healthcare services to more clients?
The issue with insurance companies is that, with the economic and financial crisis, they have fewer policyholders. On the other hand, when the situation improves, they will experience exponential growth. In turn, we will also benefit. With the crisis, some companies had to close, and others had to reduce their investment in their workers’ healthcare. We are all waiting for the crisis to be progressively solved, so that our investments in health increase as well.
How did the CSE deal with the pandemic?
CSE had to provide a swift response to its clients, most of them employees of Endiama group. We assumed the responsibility to help the Ministry of Health to tackle such situations. Besides, we have contracts with many public companies nationwide. We practically had to set up a second hospital for COVID-19. We created an intensive care area, a small operating room, hemodialysis support, laboratory support, and radiology support, and created wards. Fundamentally, we set up a team of doctors and nurses exclusively for COVID-19. In the beginning, it was a challenge. People were not used to working with this type of disease. We had times when there were practically no beds available, even in intensive care. Currently, the situation is more promising, and the situation is somewhat calmer. The latest data has revealed a downward trend in COVID-19 patients in percentage terms. Were this not a disease that evolves in waves, we would be happy; however, we know and have seen what happens in other parts of the world.
What measures has CSE taken for the future?
Within our limitations, we are prepared for the possibility of another wave. We have made the most of this less demanding period. We appointed a panel that issued and published the CSE COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines and is committed to updating this document to ensure that health care providers, patients, and policy experts have the most recent information regarding the optimal management of COVID-19. Some of our doctors and nurses have gone to Europe to gain further experience. We have kept our teams active, since we must be prepared for the possibility of another wave. The physical structure, the investment, the external design itself, the acquisition of equipment, ventilators, and PPE have all been indispensable. No one was prepared for such high demand. We faced some difficulties with suppliers, and had to change materials and other aspects. Now, however things are a little more stable, and the result has been positive. Besides, we are already seeing acceptable levels of vaccination. Indeed, we ourselves are collaborating in the vaccination process. We also have an epidemiological surveillance team that works in association with the Ministry of Health, and we think that—within the major limitations that exist—we are prepared for a fresh challenge.
What training outlook does the CSE have at this moment?
The strategy of CSE is to invest in people. Internally, the clinic has a small training center. We offer training to doctors, nurses, technicians, and so forth. We have agreements, essentially, with 17 hospitals in Portugal. Right now, there are about 40 doctors doing their specialty residencies in that country and about 200 doctors doing their specialty residencies in Angola. Over the past 10-15 years, we have invested greatly in this field. It is clear that no country in the world was prepared for COVID-19, and, therefore, we are always interested in learning from the experiences of others.
What are the goals and expectations of CSE for 2022?
We have certain challenges ahead. We are currently negotiating with an international entity regarding the expansion of this clinic. The project has already gone out to tender and the financing for the expansion is being discussed. Beyond this, over the next few years, we have the challenges of finishing the expansion of the Talatona clinic, expanding the Cabinda clinic, and completing a small structure in Namibe. The fundamental challenge continues to be investment in training people. We are entering the second cycle of training midwives, reactivating the training process for 50 health managers, and are about to start a training course in occupational medicine. Ultimately, the training of staff is fundamental to the condition of the health system.
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