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Published September 10, 2012, 08:04 AM

Sanford Health eyes bigger footprint in Africa

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Officials with Dakotas-based Sanford Health are attending a medical conference in Africa this week that could set the stage for further expansion on that continent.

By: Associated Press, INFORUM

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Officials with Dakotas-based Sanford Health are attending a medical conference in Africa this week that could set the stage for further expansion on that continent.

The health network plans to have 10 clinics in the west African nation of Ghana by 2016.

“Our goal is to replicate that ... in other developing nations,” Ruth Krystopolski, executive vice president of development and research, told the Argus Leader newspaper (http://argusne.ws/TBww9S ). "We've looked at other countries in Africa. We haven't made any decisions on where to go next."

Krystopolski and three other officials are attending a conference Wednesday through Friday in Accra, the capital and the largest city in Ghana, a democratic nation with 24 million people in an area about the size of Oregon. It is developing its own health care system.

“We're a small segment of that, but we're hoping to raise the level of health care,” Krystopolski said. “Our focus is access to primary care, not just in urban areas, but rural, too.”

Sanford's model is to open clinics as permanent facilities rather than temporary relief efforts that are common in international health care. Sanford will employ primarily people from the local population, with a business plan requiring each clinic eventually to be self-sustaining.

“We've been working with Sanford to build sustainable health care models,” said Ben Craig, executive director of the Global Interdependence Center, a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit that works to unite leaders of nations to discuss issues including health care. The center also is involved in the Ghana conference.

Sanford, based in Sioux Falls, S.D., and Fargo bills itself as the nation's largest not-for-profit rural health care provider, with a presence in more than 125 communities in seven states. It also is in the process of developing clinics in Ireland, Israel and Mexico.

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Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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