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Global Health Thought Leadership

Biomedical Equipment Training & Repairs Key to Safe Birth Initiative in Nigeria

By Charles Redding, MedShare CEO & President

The current infant mortality rate in Nigeria is 56.68 deaths per 1000 live births, compared to 5.6 deaths per 1,000 live births in the United States. This means that a child born in Nigeria is 10 times more likely to die than a child born in the United States.

To address these challenges, MedShare launched the Safe Birth Initiative (SBI) in partnership with Coca-Cola and the Ministry of Health of Nigeria. SBI aims to support the attainment of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals related to disproportionately high maternal and newborn mortality rates. This ambitious initiative focuses on strengthening the capacity of selected public hospitals through the provision of vital maternal and neonatal medical equipment and supplies; the training of biomedical engineers, technicians, and end-users to improve equipment maintenance and usage; and the reactivation of a large stock of abandoned medical equipment wasting away in public hospitals.

The Nigerian Ministry of Health identified 15 public hospitals as SBI participants, including Federal Medical Center Ebute-Metta. Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, MedShare had significantly upgraded 9 of the 15 hospitals by providing over $6 million of biomedical equipment and supplies with a focus on much-needed diagnostic and imaging equipment.

Another key component of SBI involves the training of technicians, engineers, and hospital staff in order to take full advantage of the donated equipment. Highly trained biomedical equipment technicians (BMETs) are essential to the installation, maintenance and repair of this critical medical equipment, and the training of hospital staff on its correct usage. With specialized training in healthcare technology management, BMETs provide a sustainable solution to keeping medical equipment functional.

Despite the delays due to COVID-19, and thanks to the incredible efforts of MedShare’s Director of Biomedical Engineering Training & Technical Services, Eben Amstrong, we have continued to make significant progress.

On Eben’s most recent trip to advance the SBI objectives, he reported the following:

  • The installation and training exercise for both technicians and end users have been fully completed for Federal Medical Centre, Ebute Meta, Lagos.
  • 2 Heart and Lung machines were delivered and fully installed at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, and the biomedical engineers end users were thoroughly trained. The hospital is now equipped and trained to begin treatment of infants born with cardiovascular disease.
  • In all, about 55 technicians have been trained on the SBI equipment, with over 100 others trained to repair broken equipment.
  • 8 Cardiothoracic Surgeons were also trained on the heart and lung machine — the first of its kind in Rivers State, enabling open heart surgeries to be carried out in the state.
  • Certificates were handed over to the trained engineers and technicians.
  • Eben will be proceeding to FMC Owerri with the Coca-Cola Nigeria team for the installation and training of end users for the donated heart and lung machines which will also be the first in Imo State.
  • This will be followed by the installation and training exercise in Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital in Kano State.

With Nigeria losing 2,300 children below the age of five and 145 women of childbearing age every year, this life-saving equipment and critical training are at the heart of the Safe Birth Initiative — building health system capacity to improve health outcomes and ensure that both mom and baby go home alive and well.


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