Team Debriefing on Fact-finding Trip to Africa
The UBC Biomedical Engineering Student Team (BEST) held a public debriefing session on the evening of May 27, 2015 to a crowded room of enthusiastic supporters. This undergraduate student group was formed in 2012 is a multidisciplinary team of exceptional students spanning the engineering, science and business faculties. The group designs and builds innovative medical devices that give their team members the opportunity to gain technical and non-technical skills that will help them succeed as future biomedical engineers.
On this evening, BEST’s International Medical Device Initiative (IMDI) was reporting on a recent fact-finding trip to Uganda and Kenya. Students Andrea Marshall, Georgia Grzybowski, Blake Henderson, and Marysia Grzybowski visited several hospitals to gather information on the specific needs of the hospital’s medical care teams. They also worked on building a framework for ongoing collaborations. They recognize the importance of building sustainable relationships and collaboration over time will help them build context appropriate medical devices for lower-resource settings and that this may enable easier adoption by the medical professionals. The main goal is to improve patient outcomes.
The trip was sponsored by three local industry professionals: Paul Geyer CEO, LightIntegra, Dr. Jim McEwen President, Western Clinical Engineering Ltd., and Dr. Ken Spencer President, SpencerCreo Foundation. And there was plenty of other support from UBC Engineering Design Team Council, the Faculty of Applied Science, and the Neglected Global Diseases Initiative.
In Uganda, the team met up with students from Makerere University Biomedical Engineering Program and were given in-depth tours of Mulago National Referral Hospital and Kawolo District Hospital. After a week on the ground they flew into Nairobi and were guided by WelTel International’s team member Jason Carmichael to view Nanyuki County Hospital and the Nyeri Regional Referral Hospital.
They brought home a large number of potential projects for improving the existing technology and solving some clinical challenges. They also discovered first-hand the systematic problems that donated equipment, its repair and maintenance can place on a over-stretched health care system. Medical device needs were identified in several areas: orthopedics, newborn health care, surgery, ambulance and laboratory equipment. They ranged in complexity from improvements on ear irrigation equipment to the ability to split one oxygen for several patients in a measurable and safe manner.
In fact, the trip was so successful that the UBC BEST team and it’s IMDI students will have inspiration for at least three years of future development opportunities.
Read a daily blog on the trip.
Watch a team interveiw on Global News BC1.