By Charles Redding, MedShare CEO & President
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership. They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.
Goal 3 – Good Health & Well Being aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages. Unfortunately, achieving many of the objectives of this goal remains elusive in countries like Nigeria where the current infant mortality rate is 57.7 deaths per 1000 live births, compared to 5.6 deaths per 1,000 live births in the United States. This means that a child born in Nigeria is 10 times more likely to die than a child born in the United States.
To address these challenges, MedShare launched the Safe Birth Initiative (SBI) in partnership with Coca-Cola and the Ministry of Health of Nigeria. SBI aims to support the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals related to maternal and newborn mortality rates. It focuses on strengthening the capacity of selected public hospitals through enhancing vital maternal and neonatal medical equipment and supplies; training biomedical engineers, technicians, and end-users to improve equipment maintenance and usage; and reactivating a large stock of abandoned medical equipment wasting away in public hospitals.
The Nigerian Ministry of Health identified 15 public hospitals as SBI participants, including Federal Medical Center Ebute-Metta. To date, MedShare has upgraded 9 of the 15 hospitals by providing over $6 million of biomedical equipment and supplies with a focus on much needed diagnostic and imaging equipment.
As seen here, pediatric cardiologist, Dr. Nnenna Kalu of the Federal Medical Center Ebute Metta, is scanning an infant suffering from cardiovascular complications using a recently donated ultrasound machine. This is the only ultrasound machine for pediatric cardiac diagnostics in the hospital. Prior to this donation from MedShare, infants with cardiac complications were rushed to other hospitals, while some infants were not referred in time and succumbed to their condition. Because of this precarious situation the donated iU22 Philips ultrasound machine was airfreighted from MedShare’s distribution center in Atlanta to the door of the Federal Medical Center Ebute Metta in Nigeria and immediately put to use.
Another key component of SBI is training technicians, engineers and hospital staff. Hospitals need trained biomedical equipment technicians (BMETs) to maintain and repair medical equipment to keep it in working order. BMETs also install new equipment and train hospital staff on how to correctly use equipment. With specialized training in healthcare technology management, BMETs provide a sustainable solution to keeping medical equipment functional.
As part of the sustainability measures aligned with the SBI, MedShare provided professional installations of equipment and trained End-Users and Biomedical Engineers/Technicians on how to properly diagnose and repair critical pieces of equipment, such as the Phillips iU22 ultrasound machine. As part of SBI, MedShare has trained more than 200 personnel to ensure critical equipment remain functional and available to save lives. This has also led to improve income generation for many of the participants.
One of the participants of the training shared with us:
“With joy in my heart and in appreciation to you, sir for all the knowledge you have impacted into me, that I have gotten an appointment at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) Enugu to work as a lecturer in Biomedical Engineering School. “- Onyekwere Gift
Every day, Nigeria loses 2,300 children below the age of five and 145 women of childbearing age, making the country the second worst place on earth to conceive, give birth, or raise a child. Ensuring that both mom and baby come home alive is the essence of the Safe Birth Initiative. Ensuring that hospitals have the necessary equipment, supplies and training are critical to improving health outcomes and making progress toward achieving the goals of SDG-3.