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Autumn 2023 Newsletter

It has been a busy Summer and Autumn for the Amalthea Trust. We have had three programs running, eight volunteers placed for two weeks each, and many, many hours of training carried out both for students of Biomedical Engineering and for in-service Biomeds.

Martin attended the annual EBME conference again back in June to give the annual update on our work to the conference, and it was great that so many Engineers expressed an interest in volunteering for us on one of the programs. In fact one of these, Alex Hendon from University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Trust, went out to Uganda to work on the Kyambogo program for two weeks in October. Thanks to Hilditch Group for once again hosting us on their stand.

Martin at EBME 2023 Hospital visit with in-service BMEs in Zambia

The Zambia program was once again hosted by Evelyn Hone College in Lusaka, and this time the focus was on in-service training for Biomedical Engineers and Technicians from Hospitals and clinics from across the country. The topics covered included Ultrasound, X-Ray, Patient Monitoring and Anaesthetic Machines, and was carried out by four volunteers, two of them retired, highly experienced long-term volunteers of ours (Satish Thaker and Jas Bilkhu) and the other two both currently working at The Royal London Hospital, but also with previous experience of working for us In Zambia Delroy Gray and Luciano Piccinini). The training ran for virtually the whole month of September, and initial feedback was very positive. One challenge was getting enough suitable equipment for the volunteers to work with, but such environments and contexts always require flexibility and adaptability, and the volunteer’s previous experiences of working for us in Africa, with all of the attendant challenges and rewards, stood them in good stead.

Just as the last pair of volunteers were leaving Lusaka we had another pair, this time a husband-and-wife team, flying out to Uganda. Andy Barrow (HoD at Kent Hospitals NHS Trust) and his wife Kim (a highly experienced nurse) then travelled across the country to Fort Portal at the foot of the Ruwenzori Mountains  where they spent two weeks at The Great Lakes Hospital and Fort Portal International Nursing School conducting user training for the final year student nurses and midwives at FINS.

Kim and Andy Barrow demonstrating to final years nurses at FINS

Whilst there they also conducted a full inventory of all the equipment at the hospital and worked with the in-house Biomed Technician on a program of maintenance and repair.

On the very day that the Barrow’s flew home from Entebbe, Alex Hendon (University Hospitals Bristol & Weston NHS Trust) was flying out to meet Jas Bilkhu (Programme Manager) for two weeks on Electrical Safety Testing and Management of Medical Devices at Kyambogo University, Kampala, for the BME Diploma students there. Her two weeks were followed by two more with long-term volunteer Terry Timmons covering Anaesthetic Machines and Medical Gases. Jas and Terry are flying home as I write this.

Elsewhere, back in August we had Danny O’Brien and Jamie Howes from the Management team at Hilditch Group taking on the New Forest Marathon to raise funds for our work in Africa, which was a much-appreciated gesture of support. In fact, Hilditch Group have continued to be a source of administrative support for us in 2023, and with our Facebook page now back up and running after a long period of enforced inactivity we are also grateful to Lucy Keefe at their Marketing Department for her on-going help.

So, with plenty going on in the field, and more online workshops in the pipeline for the coming months, the Amalthea Trust is looking forward to an exciting New Year in 2024.

With Best Wishes to all our volunteers and followers for the coming Festive Season.

The Amalthea Trust Team

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