The first class of 17 biomedical technicians yesterday graduated from Rwanda's Integrated Polytechnic Regional Center (IPRC) after a three-year training program funded by GE Foundation. The function was held in conjunction with Engineering World Health (EWH).
Established in 2010, to decrease the extensive amount of medical equipment out of service, the program equips technicians with the skills needed to effectively repair and maintain medical equipment. According to technical experts, as much as 70 percent of medical equipment is out of service in developing world hospitals, but trained technicians can put more than 50 percent of this equipment back into service - where it belongs.
"The goal of this biomedical repair and maintenance program is to address a major need in the delivery of healthcare in Rwanda by building capacity in partnership with the Ministry of Health," said Krista Bauer, Director of Global Programs at GE. "Our vision is to help Rwanda improve its ability to provide quality healthcare at their district hospitals."
The biomedical training program was established in 2010, when GE Foundation partnered with the Ministry of Health and Engineering World Health to provide biomedical repair and maintenance training to technicians posted in district-level hospitals across the country. The program has been rolled out in four countries, though the aim is to expand it and share the curriculum with more Ministries of Health, hospitals and students to increase the number of trained technicians.
"This training has had a measured positive impact on the ability of Rwandan hospital BMETs to service and repair critical medical devices that patients depend on," said Mr Theogene Namahungu, of the Medical Maintenance Center in Minisante.
Due to the partnership among the GE Foundation, IPRC, EWH, Minisante and Duke University, this partnership lays the foundation for future biomedical training and capacity-building.
Established in 2004, GE's Developing Health Globally (DHG) aims to improve access to quality healthcare for some of the world's most vulnerable populations by upgrading equipment and infrastructure, and providing training and support to ensure success and sustainability. GE has invested more than $60 million in more than 200 hospitals and health centers throughout Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia, making an impact on clinical practice, patient outcomes and community well-being in 14 countries. In total, the program has reached more than 12 million people globally.