William Johnston: In Africa, Innovation is About the Approach You Take

Regional Director at WSP in Africa


What are the main trends currently challenging healthcare in Africa?

Improving access to healthcare is the greatest challenge we face. There is definite scope in Africa for high tech hospitals that deliver state-of-the-art care, and we are able to design the infrastructure that enables this level of care provision. But what we also really need is a decentralised approach to healthcare that delivers a larger number of smaller facilities (20-50 beds) across a wide geographic area.

What are the main drivers that are changing healthcare delivery?

A realisation among healthcare providers here that low key schemes can be more beneficial to communities than large hospital developments like those you’d expect to see in the UK. The mind-set is shifting towards an attitude that values the highly efficient delivery of core healthcare services rolled out through a series of small schemes.

What aspect of your role in healthcare do you find most rewarding? 

The global collaboration and the unlimited opportunity. The fact that by doing basic things well we can make a hugely positive impact on the delivery of health services to local communities.

If you were a piece of medical equipment what would you be?

A helicopter.

If you had a super power what would it be?  

Time travel. I’d travel forwards and back. But mainly back – it’d be fascinating to see how things used to be.

 What job would you choose to do in a hospital?  

I’d be Dr House!

busamed modderfontein aerial view

Busamed Modderfontein Private Hospital, South Africa

About William

With over a decade’s experience already under his belt at WSP, William joined the healthcare team in early 2016 after representing WSP in Africa at a conference in London about healthcare. William was struck by the growth opportunities within the sector, and the value WSP in Africa could offer clients by creating healthcare solutions genuinely tailored to local markets.

A structural engineer with a keen appetite for travel adventures and sport, William draws on a richly diverse career that includes projects in Nigeria, Kenya and England, as well as his homeland South Africa. William’s project management experience ranges range from a high-rise London office block to a township school in Kwa-Zulu Natal. A recent key health project was the delivery of four hospitals in South Africa for private healthcare group BusaMed.

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