Ethiopia is the largest and most populated country in the Horn of Africa. The rapidly growing population of 90 million live mainly in rural areas, often under challenging conditions. Despite progress in tackling various problems, Ethiopia remains one of the poorest countries in the world.
Last week, Diamedica engineers Jon Meek and Rob McConnell, travelled to Ethiopia to install equipment and train staff at hospitals in two contrasting locations – the capital, Addis Ababa, and Jinka in the rural South Omo Valley.
Diamedica products are ideal for both locations as they are designed to enable safe anaesthesia in any setting, from sophisticated resource-rich hospitals to the most rudimentary operating theatre.
| Our engineers found the equipment in good working order
First stop was the Nordic Medical Centre in Addis Ababa. This is a modern, well-equipped hospital run by Norwegians and staffed by Ethiopian and international medical professionals.
The medical centre uses the range of Diamedica products, including the Helix Glostavent anaesthesia machines, portable ventilators, oxygen concentrators and Baby CPAP. Our engineers found the equipment in good working order and were happy to provide specialist instruction on getting the best and most efficient use from it, much to the satisfaction of the hospital staff.
The photo below shows the Glostavent Helix anaesthesia machine in the Nordic Medical Centre operating theatre and is from www.nordicmedicalcentre.com
The next venue was Jinka town in the South Omo Zone, which lies some 600 kilometres south west of Addis Ababa The journey is a day’s drive but thankfully Jinka has a small airport and can be reached in an hour by plane.
| The purpose of their visit was to install a Glostavent Helix which had been donated to the hospital
The South Omo Zone is an underdeveloped region inhabited mainly by poor, farming communities. Jinka General Hospital is the only hospital for the region, serving a staggering one million people. With limited resources the hospital struggles to meet the healthcare needs of the growing population.
Our engineers were warmly welcomed by the hospital staff at Jinka. The purpose of their visit was to install a Glostavent Helix which had been donated to the hospital by the charity Safe Anaesthesia Worldwide (SAWW) together with a patient monitor and a video laryngoscope. SAWW is a UK based charity with an international reach that works to improve anaesthesia provision by provision of equipment, training and research.
The Glostavent Helix was quickly unpacked, checked over and installed on the first afternoon, much to the delight of the anaesthesia staff. The next day was devoted to training, answering questions and ensuring that the anaesthesia team were confident with using the new machine.
Senior anaesthesia professional, Tamrat Kelelegn, informed us that, prior to the arrival of the new Glostavent Helix, there was only one functioning anaesthesia machine for the hospital’s three operating theatres. The new machine will obviously be a valuable addition to the hospital’s anaesthesia facilities.
Medical oxygen for the hospital is supplied in cylinders that can only be obtained from one supplier in Addis Ababa and must be transported to the hospital by road. This makes the oxygen expensive and the supply can be unreliable.
| Sadly, our engineers inevitably found various items of abandoned medical equipment at the hospital
The donated Glostavent Helix generates its own oxygen supply from an integral oxygen concentrator, thus ensuring a reliable and inexpensive means of improving anaesthesia provision at Jinka General Hospital.
Sadly, our engineers inevitably found various items of abandoned medical equipment at the hospital, including an anaesthesia machine, that were not in use as they were inappropriate for the location. We cannot emphasise strongly enought the importance of providing suitable technology and training when equipping low resource hospitals.
The contrast of facilities available at Jinka compared to the Nordic Medical Centre Addis were striking. Despite the limitations, Jinka Hospital performs around 750 major operations and 1250 minor operations each year.
It is a real credit to the skill and dedication of all the hospital staff that they manage to treat so many patients under such difficult conditions. Our engineers were impressed by the unflagging enthusiasm and cheerfulness of the hospital staff.
We wish to thank everyone who assisted and welcomed us in Ethiopia and we are already looking forward to our next visit.