Engineering World Health involves student engineers, experienced professionals and institutional partnerships in activities to achieve two broad objectives: improved capacity in developing countries for management of medical technologies and the design, development and distribution of medical technologies suited to health care in resource-poor settings.
We aim to ensure that healthcare providers in selected developing countries have reliable technologies for diagnosis and treatment. Typically 50 percent of medical equipment in developing country health facilities is out of service and as much as 70 percent of donated medical equipment does not work. Donated equipment may not be screened adequately, hospitals may lack the infrastructure needed for preventive maintenance or repair to keep equipment in service. Manuals may be missing or in the wrong language and the equipment may be incompatible with the power supply. The negative impact on the ability of health care providers to do their job is tremendous.
In response to these challenges, EWH mobilizes a variety of engineers suited to different aspects of the work:
- BMET Training educates technicians employed in developing world hospitals in the management, maintenance, and repair of medical equipment
- EWH chapters enable volunteer student engineers to help with activities at their home schools
- EWH Summer Institutes enable student engineers to spend two months working in the field
- Partnerships with global health organizations enable the long-term placement of intern engineers
- Experienced professional engineers, including engineers from the medical technology industry volunteer for short-term visits to the field
Technology design and development
We aim to provide health technology solutions appropriate to resource-poor settings. Technologies taken for granted in a high-tech developed country hospital may not be suited to a developing country setting. They may be simply too expensive, or perhaps unnecessarily complicated, or reliant on a steady supply of consumable parts, reliable power and water supplies or an air-conditioned environment. More appropriate technologies are needed.
In response to this challenge, EWH works with health care providers in developing countries to identify what new technologies might deliver the most positive impact for their patients. This first-hand knowledge informs our programs:
- Design projects based on a list of challenges issued worldwide each year by EWH
- The EWH Design Competition which encourages multidisciplinary student teams to generate novel appropriate technologies coupled with a business plan for their further development and manufacture
- EWH Kit builds in which interested groups build educational kits to be distributed to developing country BMET students