HealeyIRF in partnership with the TRIMEDX Foundation has been actively engaged in building biomedical repair capabilities in Sierra Leone. Following a successful assessment and repair mission in 2019, plans were temporarily halted due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, HealeyIRF remains committed to resuming these visits, recently supporting a weeklong trip by TRIMEDX Foundation biomedical technicians. In their March 2023 trip, the team visited multiple hospitals, conducted repairs, and facilitated a training workshop for hospital technicians and other technicians. These initiatives aim to address the pressing need for capacity building in Sierra Leone’s healthcare infrastructure.
Successes in the 2019 Trip
In November 2019, a team of biomedical technicians supported by HealeyIRF and the TRIMEDX Foundation visited ten hospitals and clinics in Sierra Leone. The mission resulted in the inventorying of over 300 pieces of equipment with 140 pieces assessed or repaired, and 40 identified as repairable.
The visit was highly regarded by healthcare professionals, with expressions of gratitude from Dr. Mohamed Yilla at Kindoya Hospital and Florence Bull, the Health Coordinator at the Christian Health Association of Sierra Leone.
Resumption of Visits and Training
Recognizing the significance of ongoing capacity building, HealeyIRF facilitated a weeklong visit by two TRIMEDX biomedical technicians in March 2023. The TRIMEDX team visited four hospitals across Sierra Leone to repair equipment and then conducted a day-long training workshop in Freetown for 26 aspiring biomedical technicians.
The TRIMEDX technicians, Kevin Collazo, and Allen Cox, worked at Holy Spirit Hospital in Makeni, Wesleyan Hospital in Kamakwie, and in Bo both Mercy and Kindoya Hospitals. At Mercy Hospital critical equipment such as an audiogram machine, centrifuge, and microscopes were repaired, and at Kindoya Hospital three patient monitors and two oxygen concentrators were able to be put back in working order. Oxygen concentrators were also assessed and repaired at Wesleyan and Holy Spirit Hospitals. At each hospital the trainers worked alongside onsite personnel to share their knowledge of repairing and maintaining medical equipment.
Workshop for Enhanced Collaboration
The need to build capacity, however, is so great in Sierra Leone that a workshop was held to allow additional facilities to benefit. The participants gathered at Caritas Freetown headquarters and after brief opening remarks broke into working groups so they could work directly with the trainers. These working groups allowed the attendees to discuss in more detail the equipment at their hospitals, the challenges faced and how to collectively develop strategies to best address these issues.
Joining the training team was HealeyIRF Board Member Moses Baryoh. He said, “There is no school in Sierra Leone that teaches biomedical engineering, and I am happy that you all are here to deepen your learning and build confidence to do your work.” Mr. Baryoh, a biomedical technician for over 40 years, was one of the TRIMEDX technicians who came on the 2019 trip. HealeyIRF recognizes the role of members of the diaspora, like Mr. Baryoh in bridging the gap and strengthening the healthcare system in Sierra Leone.
Continued Efforts and Future Plans
Additional trips and capacity-building efforts are being planned. In fact, before the team left a WhatsApp group was formed so participants could stay in contact with the technicians. The next day, help was needed at one of the facilities and they reached out through the group. They were able to get the needed information from the TRIMEDX Foundation team and able to fix the equipment saying, “The training yesterday was really a blessing, I’m so excited because this minor problem would have cost us so much money.”
“A critical part of health system strengthening is developing a biomedical technician workforce to keep critical healthcare equipment in working order. The successful repair missions, combined with training workshops and ongoing communication channels, mark significant strides in improving service delivery in the country’s healthcare facilities. HealeyIRF is very grateful for the partnership with TRIMEDX Foundation whose expertise and support are a crucial resource in making this possible,” noted HealeyIRF Executive Director, Benjamin Parra.