Some technological advancements, such as biomedical engineering, can be used in saving lives because the biomedical engineering field draws knowledge from different disciplines such as computer science, public health, clinical practice and biomedical sciences.
The information from these four areas has been combined to design medical devices for proper diagnosis and treatment of diseases.
In Africa, most of the medical equipment is imported since they cannot be produced locally, yet. It is also challenging to use some of the machines since the medical staff lack the knowledge to operate them. However, it is high time that Africa develops and produces its own medical tools, and experienced biomedical engineers are needed for these innovations to be successful. Fortunately, several African universities have launched the African Biomedical Engineering Consortium to spearhead these innovations.
Need for skill development
Biomedical engineers alone cannot make Africa a world leader in the innovation of medical devices. They need other fundamental structures such as equipped laboratories for prototyping and experimenting. Furthermore, the required regulations must be put in place to ensure the safety of the equipment and intellectual property rights. However, the Consortium’s focus is to produce individuals who can bring innovation into the workplace.
For the last five years, the Consortium has brought together established and new biomedical engineering programs in several African universities. These programs are to help the continent develop the required equipment in the health sector. The network is growing stronger as some members have opted to pay extra attention to transferring skills and knowledge across all participating institutions.
Additionally, a capacity-building project has been launched to help train postgraduate students in biomedical courses. Six African universities have been selected to ensure this project kicks off immediately. The selected students will be offered a full scholarship to enable them to finish their courses. The initiative focuses on building techniques that will address African needs. It will shift its core by engaging learners in programs that will arise from local realities such as:
- Creating prosthetic limbs for landmine victims
- Using mobile phones with custom-made applications as diagnostic tools in rural areas
- Developing equipment that uses 3D visualization for analyzing the body’s anatomy.
Establishing Academic Foundations
Training more scholars is not enough to make Africa develop its own medical devices. They need academicians who can maneuver the interdisciplinary setting necessary to develop technological results to healthcare problems. The project therefore also aims at supporting other academics who want to improve their technique.
The project is allowing African scholars to travel to any partnering institution to enhance their skills further. It is also providing another opportunity for African universities to harmonize their biomedical engineering curricula and also have benchmarks on each other. By doing all those, Africa can develop their own medical devices to improve the health sector.
Industry watchers say biomedical companies like Genprex Inc. (NASDAQ: GNPX) would be more than willing to support such undertakings in any way they can in order to make better healthcare a reality for nations across the globe.
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