22 Nov 2019

Royal HaskoningDHV Southern Africa presented on the challenges and opportunities of South Africa’s proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) system, at a recent Netherlands-South Africa trade mission.

Under the theme, Smart Solutions for Resilient Cities, the mission brought together South African and Dutch stakeholders to discuss ways to co-create Resilient Cities, as well as sustainable and innovative solutions to urban challenges.

Dutch trade mission discusses NHI and solutions to Cape Town’s urban challenges | Royal HaskoningDHV

Led by Dutch Vice Minister of Foreign Economic Relations, Hanneke J.W. Schuiling, and Dutch Climate Envoy, Marcel Beukeboom, the delegation, which included 10 Dutch companies from the agriculture, water, renewable energy and transport sectors, visited Johannesburg and Cape Town from 18 to 21 November 2019.

Smart hospitals

In their presentation on Artificial Intelligence and Healthcare, Royal HaskoningDHV Southern Africa’s Digital Engineering specialist, Hubert van Zandvoort, and Senior Healthcare Architect, Naeem Cassim, discussed why the success of the NHI depends on its ability to sustain universal healthcare. They also demonstrated how smart hospitals can help municipalities to enhance service delivery, optimise maintenance and technology investment, and reduce costs.

“New healthcare facilities should be properly planned for maximum efficiency at minimum cost, to cater for future demands. These include increased patient numbers, new technology, and more effective ways to manage patients,” says Cassim. “This can be achieved in South Africa with the right approach: virtual design, innovative zoning methods, and effective asset management. All of this should support the creation of a ‘digital twin’ of the hospital to ensure its sustainability.”

Problem-shooting urban challenges

Also at the mission, 40 students from seven South African and Dutch universities participated in the #cocreateMYCITY Cape Town initiative. For 10 days, students collaborated on tangible, fundable solutions to the City of Cape Town’s most urgent urban challenges.

“With the complexity of problems that cities worldwide are facing today, we need a multi-disciplinary approach to solve them. This creates the perfect opportunity for #cocreateMYCITY Cape Town, a platform that thrives on collaboration and co-creation between students from both South Africa and the Netherlands,” says Ambassador Han Peters.

Students had two minutes to present their solutions to a judging panel and explain how the solution went beyond technology to also consider social and economic factors, funding, and implementation.

Van Zandvoort, who was part of the panel, says: “I was impressed by the effort the students put into creating practical, holistic solutions to complex sustainability challenges. They applied alternative thinking and presented strong empathetic proposals that speak directly to the problem. It was truly inspiring to see the innovation that emerges when people from different backgrounds and experiences come together to solve a challenge.”

Around 200 representatives from government, the private sector, and knowledge institutes attended the trade mission, which also offered workshops and an evening trade reception.