7 May 2014

Nigeria: General Electric Grants U.S.$1.5 Million to Technicians

Photo: Tami Hultman / AllAfrica
Advocates for reducing mother and infant deaths welcome pledges of over $24 million to Nigeria's efforts in Abuja during the World Economic Forum on Africa in May. Participants in the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria announcement including front row from left: Kogi State Governor Idris Wada, Jim Ovia, Aliko Dangote, Health Minister Christian Onyebuchi Chukwu and Wellbeing Foundation Founder Toyin Saraki.

Abuja — The General Electric (GE) Foundation, in collaboration with the Developing World Healthcare Technology Laboratory at Duke University and Engineering World Health, have initiated a $1.5 million grant for Biomedical Equipment Technician Training (BMET) programme to address persistent need for repairing medical equipment and building sustainable pipeline of qualified medical engineers.

The new BMET project in Nigeria is to address a major need for locally qualified medical technicians to repair and service biomedical equipment. The capacity-building programme, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health in Nigeria, will be conducted at the Federal School of Biomedical Engineering Technology at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and will build on the success of BMET programmes already implemented in Rwanda, Ghana, Cambodia and Honduras. The $1.5 million grant is to be administered over a three-year period. It was learnt at the on-going World Economic Forum (WEF) that between 50- 80 per cent of medical equipment is out of service in low-income countries according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). In Nigeria, 50 per cent of hospital equipment is out of service which puts added strain on local healthcare delivery. "The shortage of functional medical equipment is a barrier to the efficient delivery of care in Sub-Saharan Africa," said David Barash, Executive Director and Chief Medical Officer of the GE Foundation.

This capacity-building programme he said "delivers a structured curriculum and develops a pipeline of locally accredited engineers. We are pleased to collaborate with the Nigerian Ministry of Health in helping to address these challenges in the region."

The goal of the three-year grant is to establish a BMET school in Nigeria, while also working to create a Center of Excellence (COE) in coordination with the Federal School of Biomedical Engineering Technology and LUTH. The COE's goal is to serve as a model for other training programs in the region.

Also, as part of efforts to deploy technology in building valuable skills in Nigerian youths, GE and Dangote Foundation also announced a garages program in Nigeria.

The programme will be developed on learning to create a new curriculum to meet industry needs being driven by technology advancements in manufacturing and closely related to entrepreneurship, and open innovation approaches.

Speaking at a media event to announce the initiative, Adiahmbo Odaga, Director of Dangote Foundation said Dangote was delighted at the prospect of working with GE to set up a learning environment that was different from the traditional classroom. According to him, "this programme will be focused in both classroom settings at a permanent location and in real-world, hands-on training modules, which will see youths get familiar with advanced manufacturing and production technology. This she said will eventually make them more employable in world class organisations anywhere in the world."

In the pilot phase which begins later this year, beneficiaries will be equipped with the skills that are crucial in the development of the power sector. GE Nigeria CEO Dr Lazarus Angbazo said GE and Dangote Foundation were working on an initiative that will clearly make Nigerian youths more employable in a fast changing technology-driven world. He disclosed that though the first phase will focus on the Power sector, the program is likely to expand to serve other core industries such as Healthcare and Telecommunications.

Dr Lazarus Angbazo said this initiative will also promote entrepreneurial growth in all sectors of the economy. The Garages program is in line with the Empower Pillar of GE Africa's recently launched CSR program, Kujenga. 'Kujenga' means 'build' in Swahili, and GE is a partner in building Africa's sustainable future," said Lazarus Angbazo. He stated that in driving Kujenga GE will work in partnership with governments, institutions, communities and private-sector peers to help bring sustainable and transformative development to the communities in which it operates.

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