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In support of the South African government’s planned rollout of the National Health Insurance (NHI) initiative, infrastructure delivery company AECOM’s Middle East and Africa healthcare team is hard at work engaging new opportunities in the market. AECOM is one of the largest healthcare consultancies in the world, with design teams spread across the Americas, Europe, the Far and Middle East, and Africa.

In its African market, AECOM services governments at local and national level, large private healthcare providers, and the growing group of entrepreneurs funding and constructing large facilities throughout the continent. In the Middle East, governments will transition to being regulators from their current role as service providers, while private players will drive the implementation.

AECOM Middle East and Africa healthcare team engaging new market opportunities

Middle East clients range from typically large multinationals to well-funded smaller specialist service providers. “Our key clients include US and other international signature operators. Regarding the Saudi Arabian market, the balance lies between the final iteration of provision of backbone healthcare infrastructure, and the entry of new private operators in line with Saudi Vision 2030,” Adriaan Vorster comments, AECOM’s Director of Architecture for Africa, and healthcare lead for Africa and the Middle East.

Africa has an immense backlog in terms of healthcare, a deficit that has accumulated since the 1960s. However, there has been a marked improvement in the proposed healthcare schemes being brought to the market by both the government and private sector. This includes South Africa’s NHI, a system designed to ensure that all citizens are provided with essential and suitable healthcare.

A key driver in the last two decades has been the strong emergence of an African middle class. This economic group has disposable income to leverage towards healthcare. When not available in-country, international treatment is sought.

In response to this, the healthcare industry is capitalising on clients’ requirements, and therefore increasingly more advanced facilities are coming to the market. Specialist services such as cancer care are becoming more common. Facilities are also growing in scale, especially in terms of academic hospitals that are envisaged across the continent.

“The key aim at present is to stem the flow of patient dollars out of the continent. Healthcare investors have caught on to this outflow, and currently there are major proposed health facilities in various stages of development to capitalise on enticing the continent’s well-to-do patients to spend their medical-treatment cash in Africa,” Vorster reveals.

Vorster looks after all focus regions in the Middle East, with a specific focus on Saudi Arabia at present. This role is mirrored in the East African market in particular. “I am fortunate to have some very experienced colleagues with me in in both the Abu Dhabi and Cape Town offices. Together, we have decades of collective experience in the Middle East and Africa,” Vorster highlights.

This extensive track record has meant that Arab Health 2020 at the Dubai World Trade Centre from 27 to 30 January is a major platform for AECOM to engage with potential new clients and trusted partners. Vorster will deliver a presentation sharing his insights into the lifecycle of a healthcare project from a BIM perspective.

The theme of Arab Health 2020 is ‘Transforming the medtech industry through connectivity’. Some  continuing trends in this sector is a growing focus on patient experience, catering for varied target audiences, from adults to children, in addition to standardised rooms that are highly flexible.

The team pools resources and skillsets as required. This has resulted in AECOM being one of the dominant players in the global health market. AECOM’s healthcare offering includes master planning, architecture, medical planning, interior design, landscaping, cost and project management, building engineering, medical equipment planning, construction services, and sustainability.

“In terms of healthcare services, our multidisciplinary offering will always be a differentiator,” Vorster asserts. “My focus revolves around architecture and medical planning. However, in a wider context, we wrap structures and MEP engineering around the aforementioned key drivers.

“Throughout the project lifecycle, the client has access to top regional subject experts, as well as our global resources in terms of the backbone systems and support that a close to 90 000-person organisation can bring to bear.”

Vorster is a member of a small international peer group of world-class healthcare construction consultants. He is a registered Professional Architect with the South African Council for the Architectural Profession, a Chartered member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, the South African Institute of Architects, and the South African Federation for Health Engineers and the Chartered Institute of Building

With over 20 years’ experience in the healthcare industry, Vorster has been involved with projects in North America, the Far East, Middle East, Europe, and Africa. These have included one of the largest private finance initiative (PFI) healthcare projects in the UK, The Royal London and St. Bartholomew Hospital in London, and The Maternity and Children’s Hospitals in Kuwait, both the largest of their kind in the world at present.

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