The next Chinese incursion into Africa is coming by ship. Last year, in a pilot program, China trained 10 doctors in how to use a “container hospital,” which seems to be exactly what it sounds. It’s a cargo container cum portable hospital, and if there’s power and water — and, of course, supplies — it can do virtually anything a clinic can do.
Cargo containers have several second lives on the continent already, of course. I’ve seen them converted into sleeping quarters, small shops or hair salons. But the Chinese have done a systematic hospital-in-a-box; depending on the space available, the cargo hospital can include, say, an intensive care unit or a pharmacy. You can also fill them with all kinds of equipment, of course. Ideally, though, they’re deployed as 10-unit complexes, which need about 2,000 square meters of space.
None of the cargo hospitals have landed just yet, but word is we’ll be seeing them in either Namibia or Cameroon before the end of the year. They’re expected to roll out in Kenya, Tanzania, Egypt and South Africa sometime thereafter.
Jina Moore is a 2013 IRP New Media Fellow. This post originally appeared on her blog.