I have been trying to write this article for quite some time, but I keep getting sidetracked by finding new exciting organizations that I can’t wait to write about. This article is about organizations about which I have already written, but I am grouping them in a category to make it easier for them to find through Internet searches.
This category of NGOs is defined as those that donate medical supplies and equipment to hospitals, clinics and other health care providers in Africa and elsewhere.
International Medical Equipment Collaborative is the first of these a non-profit organization that I featured in my blog.
It was established in 1995 by IMEC's President, Thomas Keefe to distribute medical equipment, supplies and support services to doctors, nurses and clinicians working in clinics and orphanages in impoverished, underserved locations worldwide.
In addition to their health professionals they have volunteers who include Project Coordinators, Furniture Repairpersons, Electronics Repairpersons, Donation Pickup Drivers, Donation Pickup Assistants, Equipment Cleaners, Equipment Packers, Equipment Repairpersons, Linen Repairpersons, Medical Supplies Packers, Workshop Donations Organizers and Office Assistants.
Since its founding, IMEC has grown to a very large network of individuals with backgrounds in either healthcare or international cooperation. Doctors, nurses, medical technicians and others assist in IMEC’s acquisition, testing, reconditioning and training related to their projects. As a result, sixty countries have received equipment and supplies from IMEC. In addition to their projects in Africa, they serve people in Central and South America, Eastern Europe, Asia, and the former Soviet Republics.
In late August of 2005 I wrote about MedShare . MedShare was founded in late 1998, and since that time it has shipped millions and millions of dollars worth of unused medical supplies to economically developing countries
MedShare carefully tailors each shipment of supplies to meet the need, as articulated by the recipient health care organization, in order to ensure that the donated material, equipment and supplies conform to the level of medical sophistication and infrastructure of the economically developing country where the recipient is located. The reason for this care is that there can be a drastic difference between the technical environments of the donor and the recipient. Once the supplies are delivered, MedShare "maintains an ongoing dialogue with recipients, to ensure that materials shipped will be useful and effective." One example of this is that biomedical equipment, (which is evaluated and often repaired by MedShare's workshop) is only shipped to hospitals that have the technology, training and resources to use and maintain the item.
MedShare gets its donated items by collecting, on a weekly basis, supplies and equipment from 14 hospitals and outpatient centers in the Greater Atlanta Metropolitan area. Additionally, more than 50 hospitals around the country partner with MedShare in order to grow its network of donors. Also, most of the major hospital supply companies in the Atlanta area donate supplies as well. In most cases these supplies would be discarded due to industry regulations and most likely end up in landfills or incinerators, but in all cases, they are still useable. This organization is funded by support from individuals, foundations, religious groups, civic organizations and corporations. And while it currently receives no federal support, it is registered with USAID as a Private Volunteer Organization.
Many of the foundations, schools, individuals, religious groups, civic organizations and corporations that fund MedShare also sponsor medical mission teams and shipments of 40-foot cargo containers of supplies.
The hospitals that receive donations from MedShare are required to complete and return detailed evaluation forms so that MedShare can evaluate the impact of its donations. In addition to the forms supplied by the recipients, and other forms of measurement, MedShare receives reports from independent evaluators in order to evaluate its impact.
MedShare has operations around the world, even the United States, but a short list of some of the countries in Africa and the Caribbean that have received help from this very efficient organization includes: Cameroon, Nigeria, Kenya, Liberia, Zimbabwe, Haiti and Jamaica.
MEDWorld is a program located at the University of North Carolina Medical College hospital at Chapel Hill, North Carolina. This program was initiated by UNC physicians, medical students and hospital staff and was designed to collect and recycle unused medical supplies that would otherwise be discarded at the UNC Medical College Hospital. The founders said that they were "looking for an opportunity to do community service on a global scale while improving staff morale and reducing hospital waste." So, the materials that are collected are sent to developing nations where they are a great benefit to those clinics and hospitals serving the poor.
Their web site states: "Every year UNC hospitals throw away thousands of dollars worth of medical equipment and supplies in order to keep up with the changing technology and the highest standard of medical care which we are privileged to have in the United States. Meanwhile, in many impoverished countries people are dying due to the lack of basic medical supplies, some of which we routinely throw away. In keeping up with the UNC tradition of providing the best medical care, we created MEDWorld as a means of extending this care to people who desperately need it in many areas of the world. MEDWorld is a program that was designed to help people in need and to help us pay attention to and improve the way we practice medicine."
MEDWorld's program is also earth friendly in that it is an environmentally responsible alternative for hospitals to re-use disposable recyclable material in order to bring health services to those who desperately need it.
The most common items collected by the organization are gloves, gauze and wound supplies, syringes, foleys and foley bags, sutures, and hygienic supplies. But the list of collected materials is very long and contains everything from Airway masks to Delivery kits to Toys, Vacuum pumps and Wheelchairs
Once the material has been collected it is the hospital it is then taken to the MEDWorld warehouse, sorted, inventoried and packaged in boxes. Each box of material is labeled with the MEDWorld disclaimer and the address of the receiving charity. These boxes are then donated to the recipient charities who must pay for all shipping and transportation costs.
The recipient charity or individual must focus on global health through any one of several types of non-profit activities. They must also make assurances that the donated material is used for care of appropriate populations and not used for sale and that the supplies have been adequately sterilized prior to their use. Also, the recipient must provide feedback on the use of the supplies through photographs or written documentation.
They also send materials abroad with resident physicians and medical students traveling to developing countries to provide medical care to the poor as well as through various other methods.
REMEDY (Recovered Medical Equipment For The Developing World) was founded in 1991 by William H. Rosenblatt, MD, Professor of Anesthesiology at Yale University School of Medicine. This organization is comprised of a group of health care professionals and others who promote the nationwide practice of recovery of open-but-unused surgical supplies. Their end goal has been to provide international medical relief while reducing solid medical waste from US hospitals.
The Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, CT has a recovery program that served as the pilot project for REMEDY that was the subject of studies conducted by Dr. Rosenblatt in collaboration with Dr. David Silverman. The study of these two doctors demonstrated the efficacy, cost-effectiveness, environmental ramifications, and usefulness of supplies recovered through the REMEDY program.
As of June 2004, the REMEDY at Yale program alone had donated over 30 tons of medical supplies! And they estimate that at least $200 million worth of supplies could be recovered from U.S. hospitals each year (just from operating rooms alone)! If these recovered supplies were sent to the developing world, they would increase the amount of that medical aid to those countries by 50%.
REMEDY became committed to teaching and promoting the recovery of surplus operating room supplies and developed a "comprehensive In-service Teaching Packet with information needed to start a standardized recovery program based on the REMEDY model, applicable to any surgical procedure in any hospital in the U.S. Proven recovery protocols were designed to be quickly adapted to the everyday operating room or critical care routine".
The Teaching Packet is distributed free of charge to any hospital that requests it. They say: "Rather than reinvent the wheel, REMEDY suggests turning to the huge network of U.S.-based non-profit medical charities to form partnerships."
REMEDY is also committed to cooperation with other charitable organizations engaged in similar activities. And they want organizations providing health care services, supplies and equipment to developing countries to know that by working together, we can more efficiently and reliably respond to those in need.
As all of these organizations tell us, this sharing of surplus medical supplies provides U.S. hospitals with an environmentally sound alternative to sending much needed medical to trash dumps while providing them to hospitals and clinics in the developing world that can use them.
MedShare's web site says that while the U. S. government regulations require hospitals in the United States to discard "more than $6.25 billion worth of unused medical supplies and equipment each year" thousands of patients in economically developing nations go without medical care for lack of this same material. This ranges from ranging from "sutures, syringes and sterile gloves to medical equipment like stethoscopes, pulse oximeters, ophthalmoscopes, electrosurgical units, anesthesia units, infant incubators and even hospital beds." And while this equipment may seem "outdated" for a "state-of-the-art" U.S. hospital it is still very much useful in providing routine, or even acute, care.
If you have a need for medical equipment and supplies, consider reading more about one of these organizations.
International Medical Equipment Collaborative (IMEC)