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From X-ray machine to hospital bed

“The NICU project is unique within the MEG,” says Ahmed. “We usually supply medical devices for emergencies, but this project is planned. We deliver packages of 35 NICU items for eighty hospitals in Ethiopia. This involves devices for pediatric departments and laboratories, such as an X-ray machine, an ultrasound scanner, but also hospital beds.”

The enormous scope makes this project challenging, Ahmed thinks. “We are involved from a to z in the implementation of the project. We do much more than just deliver devices.” For example, the MEG is also responsible for the installation of equipment and the training of local medical personnel. The MEG also remains involved afterwards for maintenance of equipment and the provision of parts. “Our work does not stop with supplying the devices to the last hospital.”

“We install equipment on site and train biomedical engineers”

The hospitals participating in the project have been selected by the Ministry of Public Health in Ethiopia. The MEG received a list of required devices during the tendering process. Then the MEG purchasing department got down to work. Ahmed: “My colleagues could immediately count on our regular suppliers, but they are also constantly looking for new partners. They do this locally and internationally. After all, we want to offer the best products with the right specifications  at good prices.”

Installation, training and monitoring

After the extensive checking and testing phases, the goods were transported by boat or plane via Djibouti to Ethiopia. Ahmed: “Normally, the customer would then takes over our work. But the requirements of our customers are also constantly changing. For example, we were told by our customers in African countries that there was a need for more direction and guidance. That is why I am in Ethiopia on behalf of the MEG in order to steer the implementation of the equipment in the right direction.”

Ahmed sends technical teams to the hospitals. They assess whether the hospitals are ready for receiving and installing equipment. Is there sufficient capacity? Is the electricity working? Are there any water facilities present? The Ministry of Public Health in Ethiopia is then updated with a report. Only after official approval from the ministry, the principal client, is the equipment distributed and installed.

“This project is an example of how the MEG wants to work in the future”

The MEG also makes sure that hospital staff in Ethiopia know how the medical devices work. Ahmed: “Our suppliers have trained 23 biomedical engineers in Ethiopia according to the ‘train the trainer’ principle. After four weeks, they were able to operate 19 different principal devices and, for example, carry out X-rays or ultrasound scans themselves. They also know how they have to maintain the equipment. Really great to see.” These biomedical engineers can now train the local hospital staff so that the knowledge is retained.

The MEG also provides knowledge and expertise in the field of maintenance. Ahmed: “We want to prevent an expensive X-ray device from going unused because certain parts are not available locally. Or because hospital staff do not know how to carry out basic maintenance to equipment.” That’s why the MEG also sets up local service providers. Hospital staff can call on them if they experience problems with the equipment after the implementation of the project. That the MEG offers this type of service is new. Ahmed: “It’s an example of how we want to work in the future.”

Learning and improving

Due to the enormous scope of the project, the MEG is working in different phases. Fifty hospitals have meanwhile started using the medical devices. In the coming months, the last hospitals will receive the devices that are so desperately needed. Ahmed: “Because we work in phases, we are constantly learning. The technical teams, for example, need less and less time to install equipment. In this way patients receive help earlier. Moreover, all goods have been delivered on time and as agreed. With the result that we have a satisfied customer and a happy patient. We’re working hard at it every day with a passionate and multidisciplinary team.”

‘Helping patients faster and better: that’s why we do it’

The MEG is used to responding to unexpected events. “We have daily contact with our customers and are present locally. This allows us to respond to challenges in a dynamic environment.” Ahmed takes as an example hospitals that were not ready to implement equipment. Or hospitals that received extra priority, but weren’t initially on the list for the implementation of equipment. Ahmed: “That’s when the MEG comes into action. Together with the Ministry and UNICEF, we are looking at how we can get the equipment to the spot where it is most needed as quickly as possible. In the end, it is all about helping patients as quickly and effectively as possible. And about our meeting and exceeding customers’ expectations.”


Although the responsibility is sometimes heavy and he works long hours, Ahmed gets a lot of satisfaction from his work. “My first experience in an Ethiopian hospital was intense. Highly pregnant women were sleeping in the corridors, waiting for their turn. There was little equipment. And the equipment that was there was in poor condition. There was also a great need for knowledge about medical equipment.” A good feeling now prevails in the meantime. “Of all the places in the world, it is Africa that most needs good healthcare. The fact that, together with my MEG colleagues, loyal suppliers and clients, I contribute to this makes me very proud.”

Something Ahmed will never forget: the moment when the first hospital started using a radiant warmer (heating device). “A huge grin appeared on the faces of the hospital staff when the heating device was finally brought in. They needed it so badly. They became even more enthusiastic during user training, when they learned what they could do with it. And they were completely over the moon when the first baby was placed underneath it to stay warm. One glance at the maternity ward and all I saw were happy doctors, happy parents and a baby that was kept warm. Priceless effort.”

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