Reusable medical equipment from Ireland has been donated to hospitals in Zambia in response to local need, as part of an innovative scheme to improve healthcare and training.
Justin and Philip Crowley, HSE
Ultrasound machines, in-patient beds, labour and delivery ward beds, infant incubators, an ENT microscope and fetal monitors were among the large shipment that departed Dublin Port for Zambia recently, as part of the EQUALS Initiative.
“Hospitals have a plan to replace equipment after a certain amount of time so it’s not going to be used any longer by the hospital, even though it has a good life left. Where that equipment is of a good quality and appropriate, we saw the opportunity to donate them to less developed countries like Zambia,” explained Dr David Weakliam, HSE Global Health Lead.
Karl Bergin, a Coombe Hospital Clinical Engineer, said the initiative started four years ago with a request from a doctor there.
“It allows them to treat patients in a better, safer environment, and to treat more patients than they might have done in the past so there are significant benefits for the equipment going over. While it is used equipment from Irish hospitals, it is verified by us before it is shipped that it is working and is in good condition. Typically it may only be five, six or seven years old so whilst it is being replaced here, it is still of great use to them,” he said.
The EQUALS Initiative was jointly founded in 2013 by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and the HSE, and it aims to provide medical equipment and quality support through partnerships in healthcare to less developed countries. Now, the Irish Medical and Surgical Trade Association (IMSTA) has become an official collaborator on the project.
Four hospitals and a training institute in Zambia will benefit from this year’s shipment. The equipment will go to institutions where the EQUALS Initiative can make an impact in terms of training.
Beds and ultrasound machines
Included in the shipment will be 50 in-patient beds, 20 labour and delivery ward beds, and 10 ultrasound machines. Pieces of equipment donated are items that are being replaced or no longer required by Irish hospitals but are still fully functioning, and meet the international criteria for equipment donations.
Dr Weakliam added: “This is an exciting development for the EQUALS Initiative. We put a lot of effort into training health professionals but this is only effective if they have functioning equipment where they work. We look forward to collaborating with IMSTA members to increase the provision of much needed medical equipment to hospitals in Zambia and other less developed countries. This will lead to better quality of care and improved outcomes for patients.”
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