Studies Find BMET Programs Dramatically Increase Use of Life-Saving Medical Equipment in Africa, Central America, & Asia



  • From 40-72% of hospital equipment in developing world is non-functional according to studies by the World Health Organization and others
  • The EWH Biomedical Engineering Technician (BMET) program funded by GE Foundation trains technicians in-country to maintain and repair all medical equipment, giving access to life-saving treatment, and creating a sustainable workforce of technicians
  • Program has led to technician productivity increases of 114%
  • Equipment downtime declined by 30%-40%
  • New Nigeria BMET program joins programs in Rwanda, Honduras, Ghana and Cambodia
  • EWH with support from GE Foundation has trained every technician in Rwanda

WASHINGTON, DC—AUGUST 5, 2014—As it prepares to launch a new program in Nigeria, Engineering World Health today announced the results of two peer-reviewed evaluations demonstrating the profound impact their Biomedical Engineering Technician (BMET) program has had on the repair of critical medical equipment and technician productivity in the developing world.

"We are thrilled that our BMET program is having a very real impact on access to critical medical equipment in the developing world," said Leslie Calman, PhD, CEO of Engineering World Health. "The results of these two studies indicate that our mission of building sustainable workforces of trained BMETs in-country will increase access to life-saving medical care and higher standards of care for years to come."

Focus on global health often centers on a call for biomedical technology and tools. However, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Engineering, approximately 72% of hospital equipment in sub-Saharan Africa cannot be used for patient care because it is in disrepair, delaying surgical procedures and other critical treatment.

"The goal is to create sustainable access to healthcare and valuable medical equipment globally, through programs such as BMET training. We help to support these goals by leveraging GE expertise and engaging committed partners. Engineering World Health brings a range of valuable expertise, insight and know-how to the BMET initiative, and actively shares in the program's successes and lessons learned around the world," said Dr. David Barash, M.D., Executive Director of the Global Health Portfolio and Chief Medical Officer for the GE Foundation.

In a comparative, quantitative study of hospitals enrolled in Engineering World Health's continuing education programs in Honduras and Rwanda, the studies' authors found 30-40% less out-of-service equipment in hospitals with EWH-trained BMETs, compared to similar hospitals.

Additionally, technicians trained by EWH in the Rwanda study are found to be 114% more productive. Ultimately, the authors of the study report, "technicians who complete the EWH program are dramatically improving healthcare by effectively using and sharing taught skills." The studies were performed by researchers at Duke University Developing World Healthcare Technology Laboratory under the direction of Robert Malkin, PhD. and appear in the Journal of Clinical Engineering in January 2014 and July-September 2014 issues. Abstracts can be found at:

"When I began my work in biomedical engineering in the developing world, I hoped we would have a real impact on the delivery of healthcare, but never thought we would see such profound result as these," said Dr. Malkin. He added, "Our program is proving to be a model program leading to sustainable change for people in need in the developing the world."

Earlier this week, the GEF announced a $20M commitment to continue to improve access to quality healthcare in Africa, through the extension of programs that address Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) four and five.

The BMET program was recently launched in Nigeria through a $1.5Million grant from GE Foundation, as part of a broader commitment to help developing countries implement simple and sustainable solutions for maternal health and child survival rates, and to strengthen regional health systems. The Nigeria program joins programs in Rwanda, Honduras, Ghana, and Cambodia, where students learn about healthcare technology management, computer skills, principles of medical device operation, and professional development. EWH trains technicians in partnership with local education institutions and Ministries of Health through a needs-based curricula tailored to each country. The program comprises twelve 4-week modules delivered over three years in classrooms, laboratory, field practicum and exam components. The result is a sustainable and scalable workforce in country to repair and maintain much-needed medical equipment, raising the quality of care in the developing world.

About Engineering World Health

Engineering World Health (EWH) is a non-profit organization that brings engineering students, professionals, and healthcare providers together to collaborate on the development and utilization of bioengineering equipment in the developing world. EWH provides programs including: STEM, Biomedical Engineering Technician training (BMET), University Chapters, Summer Institute, and Design Competitions. Learn more at:

About the GE Foundation

The GE Foundation, the philanthropic organization of GE, is committed to building a world that works better. We empower people by helping them build the skills they need to succeed in a global economy. We equip communities with the technology and capacity to improve access to better health and education. We elevate ideas that are tackling the world's toughest challenges to advance economic development and improve lives. The GE Foundation is powered by the generosity and talent of our employees, who have a strong commitment to their communities. We are at work making the world work better. Follow the GE Foundation at and on Twitter at @GE_Foundation.



Melanie Thomas Shauna Elkin

Engineering World Health FTI Consulting for GE Foundation

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