This is what happened at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project, located approximately 500 km northwest of the capital Addis Ababa, in the region of Benishangul-Gumaz along the Blue Nile, on the border with Sudan. In this remote area not served by basic amenities, the local population has no access to primary services such as healthcare. For this reason we opened the site’s clinics to the local communities, by which they may receive medical assistance and information on a healthy lifestyle.

Our on-site medical service comprises a main hospital and four satellite clinics. Completed in 2014, the hospital boasts a 20-bed in-patient capacity, along with a primary-type medical facility. It serves expatriates, local employees, subcontractors, and people from the surrounding villages.

It is equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment sourced directly from Italy, six ambulances, and a staff of 71 qualified medical workers on rotation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The unit can be considered one of the best medical facilities in this remote area of the country, and has been formally recognised by the national health authorities.

A dedicated Health Officer with an expert medical staff is in charge of ensuring medical assistance to local communities, as well as providing HIV counselling and testing, TB screening and treatment, family planning, counselling and contraception, and not least vaccination campaigns in coordination with local health authorities.

In recent years thousands of people received free medical assistance: 5,400 persons in 2012 and over 6,700 in 2013. In 2014 we treated more than 8,700 patients, performed around 9,000 medical consultations, and more than 1,800 laboratory tests.

Healthcare represents one of the pillars of our sustainability strategy, as we are committed to ensure that all those who work for us – direct employees, subcontractors, partners, and even visitors – receive high-quality medical assistance. This commitment is extended also to local communities where public healthcare is lacking, as at the GERD. In Ethiopia and elsewhere, when we take care of our communities, we have observed an immediate improvement in the health and quality of life of the local inhabitants.