Build Health International

Project Introduction

The CURE Children’s Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia performs over 2,800 surgeries and sees more than 11,000 outpatient visits annually. In order to meet an increasing need and demand for pediatric orthopedic care across the country, BHI is working to design and build two new operating rooms as well as other related expansions, such as a new outpatient wing.

Build Health International

Project Information

  • Square Footage
  • Timeline
    July 2021 - Present
  • Operational Partner
    CURE International
& Design
& Equip
Build Health International

Project Description

In Ethiopia, there are approximately 2.7 million children living with treatable disabilities such as spina bifida, clubfoot, cleft lip, and hydrocephalus. These conditions can cause immediate and long-term physical, mental, and emotional damage or poor health. There is a dearth of orthopedic care available in Ethiopia, with less than 2 surgeons per 1 million people and only two physical therapy gait labs in the entire country. The CURE International Children’s Hospital helps fill this immense gap, through the support of partnerships with the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECA) and Build Health International.

Over the years, BHI has assisted with infrastructure upgrades on the hospital’s campus such as water and waste facilities. BHI’s team of architects and engineers is currently working on planning and designing an operating room expansion to accommodate the immense need for pediatric surgical care across Ethiopia and beyond. The two new operating rooms will bring the hospital’s total to five, able to accommodate the estimated number of surgeries in the next five years.

With an expanded surgical capacity comes increased need for beds, hospital staff, medical supplies and more, each of which needs to be considered as part of the hospital’s master plan. In developing a master plan, the team considers the future growth of the campus to decide what buildings need to be relocated, renovated, or rebuilt. The hospital is located on steeply sloped terrain with little room for expansion, so the design circumvents significant spatial constraints.

Because the majority of the master planning process for CURE Ethiopia was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was difficult to assess the existing infrastructure and plan for expansion remotely. Once it was safe, lead BHI architects Gerard Georges and Jay Verspyk traveled to Ethiopia to analyze the campus in-person and hold meetings with key personnel such as medical department heads, local vendors, and engineers. This visit gave them an intimate understanding of the hospital, local context, and cultural considerations to be included in design such as garden space for tea time.

“In low resource settings people are just happy to have a roof over their head at a minimum, maybe a functioning building - particularly in the case of an OR, and they'd probably be very happy at that. I think the architecture part of it is what brings in people's well being, of a sense that this is a place where I'm made to feel important, it gives you a sense of dignity, a sense of hope. Buildings really affect us in a subliminal way. Daylight is a big part of it but also flow, movement, color, and how you orient people. Especially in a hospital the wayfinding is just such an important part. When patients come to a hospital, many are probably very fearful, so the more you can give a feeling of comfort, wayfinding so they don't get lost, reducing the stress, both for the patient and for the staff, it makes a big difference.” -- Jay Verspyck, BHI Director of Design.