GH PLUS Supports Biomedical Equipment Training Program in Honduras

October 29, 2012

Through Duke Global Health Plus, Duke is helping build capacity for skilled health care workers and hospitals outfitted with medical equipment to better treat patients in low- and middle-income countries. The program recycles surplus medical equipment and supplies from the Duke University Health System for use by Duke faculty or Duke-affiliated physicians on global projects that build capacity and improve health.

The latest recipient of GH PLUS support is Robert Malkin, a biomedical engineer and faculty member at the Duke Global Health Institute and Pratt School of Engineering.  As Director of Duke-Engineering World Health, Malkin is working with partners in Central America, Southeast Asia and Africa to train biomedical equipment technicians (BMET) on how to repair broken medical equipment.

This fall, Malkin will ship, deliver and install more than 200 pieces of Duke surplus medical equipment and supplies to Instituto Nacional de Formacion Profesional in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The medical equipment will be used in the BMET Training Program to give technicians hands-on practice repairing broken medical equipment like patient monitors, defibrillators, microscopes, infant incubators, ventilators and diagnostic ultrasound machines.

“We’re grateful to Duke Global Health Plus for supporting our BMET training program in Honduras,” said Malkin. “In order to increase skills and capacity for medical equipment repair and maintenance, the technicians in Honduras must have hands-on practice on real medical equipment. Without this practical knowledge and experience, students would be unequipped to make repairs required to increase the technical capacity at their hospitals and in turn, the quantity and quality of health care provided to the poorest populations.”

Worldwide, more than 95 percent of medical equipment in the hospitals of low-income countries is imported.  Yet, Malkin’s research shows that 40-95 percent of this equipment is out of service.

In 2010, EWH received funding from the GE Foundation to begin a continuing education program for biomedical equipment technicians. This program, along with similar ones in Ghana, Rwanda and Cambodia, are unique because they focus on advanced training adapted to the reality of scarce resources in the developing world. The two-week training sessions offered several times a year use a curriculum developed by Robert Malkin’s Developing World Healthcare Technology lab, with help from undergraduate Pratt students.

The medical equipment will be used in training sessions through August 2013. Afterward, the equipment will remain in the classroom for further instruction as program leadership will turn over to Instituto Nacional de Formacion Profesional.

Faculty interested in GH PLUS equipment, supplies and support for their project is welcome to apply.

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Jerry Kaufman instructs BMET students on the repair and maintenance of a vintage X-ray machine.  The machine dates back to the 1950’s, but had been in use until recently.

“We’re grateful to Duke Global Health Plus for supporting our BMET training program in Honduras."

- Robert Malkin, Pratt and DGHI

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