Biotech takes a leading role in Haiti’s healthcare recovery

By March 26, 2012

Haiti (MNN) — Sometime in the mid 1980's,  the developed world decided to share its
healthcare technology and practices with the developing world.

Massive campaigns began, and donated equipment accounts for roughly
95% of a hospital's technology in
the Third World. 

However, what also became clear was that simply providing hospitals
with medical devices was not effective. International Aid biomedical technician Brian Barker
explains, "The World Health Organization says that at least 50%, if not
80% of the medical equipment in developing countries is broken and can't
be fixed because there's no one qualified to do it, or there are no parts available
in the country."

The collapse of the medical system in Haiti following the
2010 earthquake revealed that need
especially at a time when hospitals were barely functioning in Port-au-Prince. "In the past, medical
equipment servicing was done by volunteer biomedical equipment technicians, or
volunteer retired engineers, and they would show up every two or three months. The
hospital would have a pile of equipment set aside that needed to be repaired."

Barker began the first of three training trips to their ministry partner, Hospital
Bernard Mevs. "This was a big move
for Hospital Bernard Mevs to look at actually getting the service people
available and getting them trained." A team of five trained on servicing and
fixing diagnostic equipment. Of the five, three had mechanical repair training,
and one was a trained emergency medical technician. Only one student had previously conducted
repairs on the medical equipment used in hospitals.  

Barker returned last week to the island nation to do a follow-up on
the December training of biotech employees and found that they had fixed what
they could, salvaged parts from what they could not fix, and generally whittled
the pile of junk down.

That also revealed another need. Other hospitals had the same problem as Hospital Bernard Mevs. "It's
triggered a response from Project MediShare and Hospital Bernard Mevs to maybe
branch out to offering services to other hospitals–like a travelling field
service engineering work–maybe revamp/modify an ambulance and put a service
center in it and travel the country."

The students all have their own equipment training kits and
training on how to fix problems with defibrillators, syringe pumps, battery
chargers and suction machines. Barker also taught them how to solder and operate a
voltmeter. He explains that "the
goal of all of the people who are involved in this is to turn this over to the
Haitian people themselves so that they can handle the medical care, the
equipment care, getting ambulance services running really well. There are
hospitals being built, and others being renovated."

Training the trainers? That seems like the pattern for an evangelism
explosion of sorts. Barker notes that "The
basic premises of the men were Christian, and we were able to talk about that,
and then that in turn gets spread out among other people that are medical
missions people that are Christ-minded."

There are missions, doctors, clinics and health care practitioners
going in because they can see the ever-present need. News reports show endless tent cities, crime,
corruption and few lasting results of the rebuild. However, it is happening. Barker says the love of Christ plays a big role in healing
the broken parts of Port-au-Prince. "It is the poorest nation on this side of
the planet, and people understand that the love of Christ is needed to not
only promote clean water, education or healthcare or whatever else might be
needed, but they also know that Jesus is
needed in people's lives."

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