Our Work

Curriculum for Training Technicians

Project Objectives

Develop a curriculum for training technicians in Rwanda with potential application to other countries; 15 hospitals in Rwanda have signed up to use the Duke, evidence-based curriculum. The basis for the training will be a new curriculum developed by undergraduates at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering. Allison Keane (2009 Biomedical Engineering) did the basic research, analyzing reports from several thousand pieces of broken medical equipment and spending a summer in Africa with the Engineering World Health-Duke Summer Institute in 2008. Keane determined why medical equipment that works in the US fails when it arrives in the developing world. Using that information, Jenna Maloka (2009 Biomedical Engineering) and Keane determined what knowledge one would need to return the equipment to service in a resource-poor setting. Then, Mhoire and Kathleen Murphy (2009 Biomedical Engineering) and Marian Dickinson (2010 Biomedical Engineering) converted that knowledge into a curriculum that could be taught to secondary school graduates.

Rwanda has been experiencing a remarkable recovery from a devastating civil war. However, the nation still suffers from a severe lack of trained personnel in the health care professions. There simply aren't enough doctors, nurses or biomedical engineers to keep the health care system running in Rwanda. In fact, there isn't even a school to train biomedical engineers or biomedical engineering technicians in the country. The curriculum created by Pratt's undergraduates teaches skills specific to a resource poor hospital; for example, substituting a broken fuse from the marketplace in an electrocardiogram when the exact replacement fuse is not available. The plan in Rwanda is to teach the new curriculum, as part of a longer curriculum - that Pratt is also developing - for three years, then use Rwandan graduates from the first years of the program to perpetuate the instruction.

"We're very excited about this roll-out," said Dr. Robert Malkin, Director of Engineering World Health-Duke. "We've also discussed rolling out this curriculum in Ethiopia and Mozambique with the Centers for Disease Control. "The World Health Organization estimates that most of the medical equipment in the developing world is not working. Broken equipment causes millions to go without treatment every year. The work of these Pratt students goes a long way towards making health care available to all.

Faculty

Department & School

Biomedical Engineering
Pratt School of Engineering

Sponsors

  • General Electric Foundation

Project Status

Ongoing

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