Developing a Solar Digital Library for Africa
Hospitals and health clinics in many low- and middle-income countries rely heavily on donated equipment. Despite the good intentions of donors, many of these donated technologies end up out-of-service.
To remedy the situation, Sarah Patterson, a master’s student at Arizona State University, is conducting a project in collaboration with Engineering World Health and Arizona State University’s SolarSPELL. This project aims to understand and rectify the resource gaps preventing Biomedical Engineering Technicians (BMETs) from fixing broken equipment in resource-constrained hospitals and health clinics. Based on Sarah’s research, a solar-powered digital library was created to address these issues, and an implementation plan was set up to deliver the materials.
Her project, SolarSPELL for BMETs, is a fully functioning digital library that requires no Internet connection or electricity. The digital library holds over 1600 resources, including a document on centrifugation donated by the IBMS. Documents like this will help inform hospital technicians on how to clean, fix, calibrate, and perform proper preventative maintenance on life-saving medical equipment.
“A major problem that many of these low-income countries face is that donated medical equipment breaks and is not accompanied by repair manuals, disposables, or equipment maintenance information. There is a shortage of trained technicians and existing technicians do not have access to quality technical resources.
A needs assessment conducted in Rwanda indicated that lack of user and service manuals is the number one barrier to fixing donated equipment. If a local BMET is unable to fix a piece of equipment, it is simply thrown away.
We are trying to remedy this situation through SolarSpell. Our goal is to provide BMETs with access to reliable technical resources to fix and maintain medical equipment. In partnership with Engineering World Health (EWH), we will begin piloting these digital libraries this summer in Tanzania and Rwanda.”
The SolarSpell project will be implemented at a number of hospitals and clinics in Rwanda and Tanzania, starting in June 2018.
We wish Sarah the best of luck with her project and look forward to hearing more about this programme.