Global Health PLUS Program Gives New Life to Duke Medical Equipment


Operating room at Mulago Hospital in Kampala, Uganda. Much of the equipment in the room was donated through the Duke Global Health PLUS program.

Published April 28, 2015, last updated on September 15, 2021 under Research News

When health professionals seek to add capacity to their collaboration with global partners, a major barrier is often the lack of high quality medical equipment. Duke faculty, however, can tap into the Global Health PLUS program, which helps them advance their work in global settings by facilitating the transfer of surplus Duke medical equipment to low-resource communities throughout the world. (PLUS stands for Placement of Life-changing Usable Surplus.)

Nearly 50 Tons and More than $7 Million in Equipment to Uganda

A case in point is Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI) faculty member and Duke Medicine neurosurgeon Michael Haglund, who helped inspire the development of Global Health PLUS. 

When the program began in 2007, he sent nine tons of surplus Duke medical equipment to Mulago Hospital in Uganda, refurbishing five operating rooms, a recovery room and intensive care unit on the hospital’s neurosurgery floor. The equipment included ventilators, microscopes, electronic blood pressure cuffs, operating room lights and various monitors used to measure surgical patients’ vital signs. Since then, Haglund has sent 40 more tons of equipment valued at more than $7 million to Mulago Hospital. 

According to Haglund, there’s a tremendous unmet need for surgery in Uganda, particularly neurosurgery. While the U.S. has one neurosurgeon for every 88,000 people, Uganda has only five neurosurgeons in the entire country of more than 30 million—a mind-boggling ratio of one neurosurgeon for every six million citizens. The Global Health PLUS program has enabled Haglund to develop a neurosurgery training program in Uganda; its first resident graduated in December.

Bolivia, Ghana and Nigeria Are also among Beneficiaries 

DGHI affiliate faculty member and community and family medicine professor W. Kevin Broyles has also tapped the Global Health PLUS program to add equipment to Hospital Arco Iris in Bolivia, which provides free healthcare to more than 80,000 children and families each year. 

“In this developing country setting, we certainly do not have the resources to purchase medical equipment,” said Broyles. “The Global Health PLUS program provides the equipment to enable us to provide quality healthcare to vulnerable children and families.”

Adeyemi John Olufolabi, associate professor in anesthesiology at Duke, has worked with Global Health PLUS to bring equipment such as patient monitors to hospitals in Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda with the goal of reducing maternal and still birth deaths. 

He notes, “Often, our health care partners do not have the right tools to ensure safe delivery of care. What good is a car without a dashboard? You can’t tell what’s going on and can only guess, often to your own demise—it’s the same idea with patient monitors.” The monitors, he said, have really made a difference.

Applying for the Program

Mary Crawford, Duke’s director of procurement services, oversees surplus property operations for Duke and the Duke University Health System, of which the Global Health PLUS program is a part. She works with a committee that reviews faculty member applications for surplus equipment. Crawford is unaware of any similar donation-only surplus programs at other universities.

Faculty members who are conducting official Duke business overseas and who meet a set of criteria are eligible to participate in the program. After an initial conversation with Sarah Cao, DGHI’s assistant director of international operations, qualified parties may schedule a visit to Duke’s Surplus Property Office to see what’s available and then submit an application to the Global Health PLUS committee for review. 

The cost and logistics of shipping the equipment is the responsibility of the faculty member. Crawford tracks the equipment, assigns a value and works with Duke’s export controls staff to clear the equipment to be shipped. 

The Global Health PLUS program provides the equipment to enable us to provide quality healthcare to vulnerable children and families.

W. Kevin Broyles, DGHI affiliate faculty member and community and family medicine professor