Six African Universities Develop a Generic BME Curriculum

Six African Universities have adopted a generic programme for developing biomedical engineering (BME) curriculum as a result of an initiative supported by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

The initiative, termed “Engineering Expertise to Improve Health Outcomes in Africa” includes representatives from universities in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa and Zambia. The curriculum will now guide the participating universities in developing their own BME programmes and departments.

Speaking after the adoption of the programme, Ms Aida Opoku-Mensah, Director of ICT, Science and Technology Division of ECA, thanked the experts for their commitment to advance healthcare in Africa and their hard work in developing and adopting a generic curriculum. She stated that “Africa needs to urgently develop the capacity to install, operate, maintain and upgrade medical devices as well as develop robust and reliable medical equipment and systems.”

“The main goal is to build the Africa’s capacity to maintain, modify and upgrade medical devices as well as to develop and bring to market unique, robust and reliable medical devices,” she said. By so doing, the project could save lives, save money, promote innovation and entrepreneurship as well as create jobs and wealth.

She noted that Africa spends a large amount of its meager resources importing biomedical equipment with an average usage span of about 3.5 years or less due to poor use and maintenance. “The lack of skilled biomedical engineers in this field has been identified as a major bottleneck by the World Health Organization and African leaders,” she said.

Ms. Opoku-Mensah said the initiative will offer 1) training to medics, technicians and researchers interested or involved in innovating, maintaining, designing and fabricating medical equipment and systems in hospitals and laboratories, 2) assist interest universities put in place a curriculum to generate a cadre of biomedical engineers; 3) identify and support talented and entrepreneurial university students through the International Medical Design Competition with mentorship and coaching; 4) and promote innovation and entrepreneurship through the BME Innovators School.

Present were deans and senior lecturers from medical and engineering schools of Addis Ababa University, Kenyatta University, University of Malawi, University of Nairobi and University of Zambia as well as professors from University of Cape Town and Medical Research Council of South Africa. Others included the Manager of the National Technology Business Centre in Zambia and the CEO of Stellenbosch University’s Innovation and Development Centre.

This pilot phase is supported by ECA, the Laboratory for Engineering Education and Development (LEED) at Boston University (BU) and the Government of Korea.

Source:-  United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) – Press Release – 30 Nov 2011