A Chamonix-based NGO working to improve medical equipment in hospitals in developing countries.
Founded in Les Houches in 1999, Humatem is specialized in the field of biomedical cooperation.
You have probably already heard about medical cooperation projects in regions of the world where access to care is difficult, but do you know what biomedical cooperation is ? Very complementary to medical cooperation but much less know to the general public, it concerns the management of medical equipment. The biomedical cooperation aims to support actions that will enable the caregivers to diagnose, treat and operate safely by ensuring access to suitable, functional equipment, that will remain so. The key actors in biomedical cooperation’s projects are rarely doctors and nurses, but rather biomedical/clinical technicians and engineers.
Providing support for medical equipment donations' projects
Healthcare facilities in developing countries are orely lacking in medical equipment and the donations received are not always appropriate. In 2011, the World Health Organization estimated that 70 to 90% of donated equipment was not functional in its new environment. This is an alarming figure when you consider that in some countries, dontaed equipment represents up to 80% of the equipement stock. Some examples of failures linked to lacks in the diagnostic ahead of donations : an intensive care ventilator left in a corner because no one knows how to install or use it, an operating light that is too heavy for the ceiling of the operating room it was meant, or yet recurring power cuts that irreversibly damage a scanner.
Supporting equipment donors and befeciary health facilities in these donation processus is the purpose of Humatem’s Medical Equipmment Donation Bank and Resource Center. On the one hand, we assess equipment request application files that must include precise lists of needs communicated by the staff of partner hospitals and we advise all stakeholders ; on the other hand, we collect, test and prepare for re-use medical equipment matching with these lists of needs.
** Contributing to the development of local biomedical skills**
Biomedical/clinical technicians and engineers are the names of the professionals in charge of the selection, installation, management and maintenance of medical equipment. The fact is, these professionals are still too few in the health structures in developing countries, when there are any. They are also insufficiently trained and tooled to be able to maintain and repair the equipment. Not to mention that maintaining medical equipment requires using specific testers and simulators that can cost up to several thousand euros. For example, a « lung-tester » is essential to check the functioning of an IC ventilator.
As part of our Expertise and Capacity building field actions, we carry out infrastructure diagnostics, installation of equipment, acquisition consulting, but mostly training sessions for local professionals. Trainings aimed at biomedical technicians, engineers or instructors cover the management and maintenance of medical equipment. We have also recently initiated innovative trainings for caregivers that focuse on the users’ good usage practices and first level maintenance, which is their responsibility. In addition, we develop and make available in our Resource Center more and more tools suited for the work environment of biomedical professionals in developing countries, including video tutorials of "alternative" preventive maintenance procedures (i.e. requiring no specific testers) uploaded on our Youtube channel.
Raising awareness among health decision-makers in developing countries and advocating for strengthening the biomedical sector in developing countries
When a breakdown is diagnosed on a piece of equipment, the search for local supplies of accessories and spare parts begins : this can be a real challenge in countries where supply channels are lacking. When equipment is down for several weeks, this means postponing of consultations and surgeries at the expense of patients. All too often, equipment that breaks down will simply and purely be replaced without troubleshooting. In this challenging environment, hospitals are often compelled to depend on new equipment donations or to wait until their budget allows them to renew the equipment. In the case of an ultrasound machine or a dental chair, the costs can reach tens of thousands of euros. And yet, hospital management teams are not always aware of the long-term savings and the positive impact on the quality of care that an investment in regular preventive maintenance represents.
Humatem tries to contribute to solving these issues by running or participating in dialogue arenas and advocacy actions. Our goal is to raise awareness among international solidarity actors, local health decision-makers and donors about the importance of supporting the development of the biomedical sector in developing countries. These Dialogue and Advocacy actions take the form of working groups, awareness-raising symposiums, presentations during international congresses and our official collaboration with the World Health Organization as an NGO in official relations with WHO since 2015.
As you will have understood, the challenges are numerous but, fortunately, there are solutions to improve the working conditions of caregivers and biomedical professionals. And, with it, a better access to quality of care for patients and to the right to health for all in these countries.
Bank of medical equipment donations, Resource center, Expertise and Capacity building, Dialogue and Advocacy : in order to carry out all these activities, Humatem relies on a team of 4 staff trained either in biomedical engineering or in project management. This permanent team is supported by volunteers, student-interns and civic service volunteers.
HUMATEM AND UTMB
What will the funds raised through the Charity Bibs be used for ?
For its first year as a Charity Bibs partner, our NGO plans to use the funds raised to acquire new testers, to further enhance the training of our biomedical engineers and to keep on developing our support and training actions for biomedical professionnals in developing countries. It will allow us to :
- carry out tests on new categories of medical equipment handled in our workshop
- conduct more exhaustive diagnostics of medical equipment in hospitals that do not have the means to acquire testers themselves
- conduct training sessions in troubleshooting and corrective maintenance aka "Repair Café" on a larger number of equipment
- provide new technical training courses in the fields of radiology, laboratory and oxygen production plants
- strengthen biomedical curricula offered by training institutes in developing countries through instructors training and pratical work room equipment.
In order of priority, funds will be used specifically to :
- acquire a broad spectrum oxygen analyzer : about 6 000€
- acquire an X-ray tester (KVmeter/mASmeter) : about 6 000€
- finance "manufacturers" trainings for our biomedical engineers on radiology and laboratory equipment, oxygen plants and ventilators
- finance the equipment of practical work rooms in two training institutes in Benin offering professional training diplomas in the biomedical/clinical field.
You are interested in our action and you wish to support Humatem ?
Contact us or come and meet us in our office in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc
or our workshop-warehouse in Sallanches !
Phone : +33 (0)4 50 54 68 83
Tour Pumori (T2) – 6e étage
Promenade du Fori
74400 Chamonix Mont Blanc
(entrance by the 85 route du Bouchet)
More information on Humatem :
_Humatem has been recognised as a charity of public interest. This means any financial or in-kind
donations (e.g. services or physical goods) can be registered as tax deductible in France. Private
individuals (in France): tax reduction equivalent to 66% of the financial value of your donation, not
exceeding 20 % taxable income. Companies (in France): tax reduction equivalent to 60%
of the financial value of your donation not exceeding 0.5% gross revenue._