Nearly 40% of critical medical equipment in developing countries is in need of repair or replacement. Donated and purchased equipment sits idle due to the lack of skilled Biomedical Engineering Technicians who can install, maintain or repair it. As a result, physicians are hampered in their ability to deliver care and communities are left vulnerable.
Engineering World Health developed its BMET training program in late 2009 in response to this dire need. Our mission is to build a local, sustainable, trained workforce of BMETs in developing countries to repair and maintain medical equipment. The program began in Rwanda through the generous funding of the GE Foundation, with the goal of training enough technicians to service every hospital in that country. Now, Rwanda has over 38 trained biomedical engineering technicians, with another 22 graduating soon. Building on the success of this program, GE and EWH have expanded our training to Cambodia, Honduras and Ghana.
The EWH BMET training program is unique to each country served. It features needs-based curricula tailored to each country in partnership with Duke University’s Developing World Technology Lab, headed by Dr. Robert Malkin.
In Ghana and Honduras, there are already a significant number of biomedical equipment technicians who have received some level of introductory training. In these countries, EWH works with local educational institutions to provide continuing education to practicing BMETs, as well as train in-country instructors, so that the programs become self-sustaining. In addition, we encourage the development of professional societies of biomedical technicians and engineers to further ethical development, career guidelines and best practices.
In Rwanda and Cambodia, where the educational opportunities have been more limited, EWH provides an introductory BMET training course. Students learn about healthcare technology management, computer skills, principles of medical device operation, and professional development. They are taught a broad base of skills that apply to the maintenance and repair of numerous types of biomedical equipment. In these countries, technicians attend a two-month intensive course twice per year, alternating with hands-on, mentored practice in their hospital. Through this method, local hospitals begin reaping the benefits immediately after the first session of classes finish. After three years and six training sessions, the students receive a certification in BMET.