Campus to Country

IGH’s Inaugural Trip to Ethiopia (December 2018-January 2019)

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Preliminary Visit Goals

Multi-department Needs Assessment Procedure:
  • Interview nurses and doctors in multiple departments such as OR, ICU, Neurology, Oncology, Pediatrics and ER
Biomedical Engineering Department Collaboration
  • Evaluation of Broken Equipment: Missing Parts Inventory, Infusion Pumps, Patient Monitors, Centrifuges, Suction Pumps
  • Exchange of Knowledge: Teach a technology that enables technicians and students to develop instrumentation

Highlight of Needs Assessment

  • Missing Components: Donated equipment often lacks necessary accessories and user/service manuals (Ex. Patient Monitors)
  • Expensive Parts: Limited resources to replace expensive parts resulting in accumulation of unused medical equipment (Ex. Surgical Lamp Bulbs)
  • Limited Equipment Calibration: Equipment may not be calibrated often enough to allow for safe use (Ex. Anesthesia)
  • Inadequate Access to Information: Poor access to internet produces significant barriers to medical equipment information (Ex. Manuals)

Potential Future Projects:

  • Work with ISO-ICP and Biomedical Department at Saint Paul’s to develop:
    •Sustainable, Low Cost LED Surgical Lamp
    •Portable Pulse Oximeter Kits
    •Patient Monitors with Arduino
  • Joint Engineering Design Classes with NU and Saint Paul’s

March 2020 Trip to Ethiopia


Arduino Workshop

During our week in Ethiopia, we conducted a daily Arduino workshop with the biomedical technician students that rotate through the Biomedical workshop at St. Paul’s. Arduino is a microcontroller and prototyping platform that can be coded and utilized in a myriad of medical applications, such as patient monitors. 

We donated 13 Arduino kits to the biomedical workshop in hopes that the students and technicians would continue to use and learn from the Arduino kits to develop more and more complex circuits that could eventually be used in medical applications, specifically in designing and creating medical devices. The workshops strive to convey general engineering principles and tools so the students can apply their knowledge to repairing the medical devices and develop new devices to fit their needs. Most of the devices they receive are not made to function in their country, since they do not have the same resources as the countries donating the equipment, such as stable power and proper outlets. 

Surgical Lamp Prototype

Why a surgical lamp? The surgical lamps currently being used at St. Paul’s rely on halogen bulbs, which are particularly expensive to import (they are not manufactured anywhere on the African continent) and have short life-spans. In fact, the engineers stated that they spent at least one day every week in the OR repairing the lamps and replacing bulbs. We observed that at any one time, most of the lamps in the OR were actually operating with half the necessary number of bulbs due to procurement difficulties. With these constraints in mind, the IGH design team tackled designing a functional LED surgical lamp prototype that the engineers and technicians in the Biomedical Engineering Workshop at St. Paul’s would be able to recreate utilizing resources and materials available in Addis Ababa. 

Needs Assessment

We interviewed clinicians and technicians from the following departments: 

  • ICU
  • Emergency Department
  • Nephrology
  • OR
  • Oncology
  • X-Ray/CT
  • MRI
  • EndourologyENT / Maxillofacial
  • DentalEcho-cardiography
  • Ophthalmology

Future Potential Projects (based on needs assessment):

  • Telemetry
  • Portable PulseOx kits (Capstone Project in progress)
  • Glucometer/test strips
  • Suction machine
  • ECG Electrodes (selected design project)

Current Partnerships in the Works

  • Collaboration between the University of Ghana and Northeastern’s Bioengineering Department
  • Designing walker for dialogue to Rwanda (Summer 2 2021)