On Saturday 24th April the Amalthea Trust, in partnership with The Tropical Health Education Trust (THET) and Hilditch Group, conducted an online workshop with final year Biomedical Engineering students at Evelyn Hone College in Lusaka, Zambia over a Zoom link. We had been planning to send a small team of Biomedical Engineers out to Lusaka last year but of course the whole program was put on hold when the first Coronavirus wave hit and lockdown happened. This online workshop, delivered by Andy Barrow (Kent Hospitals NHS Trust), Jas Bilkhu (Amalthea Trust and Ex- New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton), and Roger Sanders (Head of BME Dept. at Hilditch Group) took place at the wonderful facilities of Hilditch Group, who were also able to supply all of the required equipment from their auction floor. The focus was on Ventilators, Patient Monitors and Anaesthetic Machines, and the whole workshop lasted a total of 6 hours. The students were able to learn about fault finding and preventative maintenance on these machines, using similar equipment their end as a reference, and were able to ask a lot of questions of our team of experts.
All in all, the day was a great success, despite a few inevitable teething problems at the start, and we are hoping to repeat the exercise in a few weeks’ time with a group of BMEs from some of Lusaka’s major hospitals. The focus is likely to be a bit different when working with in-service Engineers, but we are determined to try and deliver as much support as we can to our colleagues in Zambia in these difficult times. Although it is always best to have our volunteers visit in person, using Zoom is allowing us to still conduct some really meaningful work, so we are likely to continue this method until such time as we can once again send our volunteers out into the field.