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A BME summer abroad in Uganda

September 27, 2023

Ishir Sharma, a third-year biomedical engineering student, spent two months this summer pursuing a clinical engineering-based healthcare service project in Uganda. A global health enthusiast, Sharma is interested in healthcare delivery in low-resource settings and the role of innovation in making it equitable, affordable, and accessible.

Through Engineering World Health, a US-based nonprofit, he joined a cohort of students from around the world at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. Together, the students worked to understand the country’s healthcare system through hands-on experiential learning on medical instrumentation repairs and through field visits to various local hospitals and health centers across the country.

During his time in Uganda, Sharma repaired and maintained medical devices used in hospitals at different levels of the healthcare system. He also volunteered as a full-time biomedical equipment technician at Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital.

“My responsibilities included repair and maintenance of hospital equipment, calibration of devices, installation of new equipment, hospital inventory management, and user training,” said Sharma. “I worked on a wide range of clinical medical equipment including dental chairs, nebulizers, suction machines, examination lamps, patient trolleys, equipment racks, centrifuges, vital signs monitors, drip stands, feeding pumps, ICU beds, autoclaves and more.”

During his time in Uganda, Sharma visited a number of healthcare centers including the country’s main National Referral Hospital (Mulago), Kiswa Health Centre, Kiruddu Referral Hospital, and multiple lower-level healthcare centers. He also spent time shadowing and meeting with pathologists, oncologists, laboratory technicians, healthcare workers, and Ugandan leaders.

“Working in these various healthcare settings provided a glimpse into the varied structure of the Ugandan Healthcare system,” said Sharma. “It was an extremely valuable learning opportunity to assess medical device needs and troubleshoot equipment breakdowns in a wide variety of clinical settings.”

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