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Newsletter: Spring 2019

Updated: Jun 4, 2020

Welcome to this latest newsletter from the Amalthea Trust. We ended the previous one with a record deployment of six volunteer Biomedical Engineers to Kyambogo University in Kampala, Uganda in order to teach the practical sessions for the new Bachelor’s degree course in parallel with the now well established Diploma.

This seemed an appropriate point for reflection on our relatively long and successful relationship with Kyambogo and led to the gathering of a great deal of feedback from both students and volunteers as well as the University themselves. This took the form of an extensive questionnaire filled in by each and every student on the conclusion of each practical module, a different and confidential one for the volunteers, and a whole lot of conversations with several of the stake holders. This process was undertaken for both the Autumn 2018 semester and the Spring 2019 semester, after a pilot in the Spring 2018 semester, and yielded a lot of very useful information which we are now using to try and improve the experience for all concerned. It also provided some useful output data for future funding applications.

The first result was a short and intense visit to Kyambogo by our Programme Director, Martin Worster, and veteran volunteer Ray Emslie, who spent the best part of a week re-organising, tidying and cleaning the Diploma teaching lab and auditing the asset register. Some unusable equipment was disposed of and a new asset register produced which means we can now provide volunteers with an accurate list of exactly what is there in advance of their visits. That whole space should now be rather more user-friendly.

Ray working on the asset register at KU in the Diploma Lab.

Shortly after Martin and Ray left Jas Bilkhu arrived with volunteer Rod McGregor to kick off the Spring 2019 semester with the ultrasound module. Satish Thakar, probably our most experienced volunteer of all, then reprised his X-Ray module for the following two weeks, including the usual hospital visit. All went well, and both volunteers reported a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Jas also returned with another set of student feedback forms as we have decided to make this an ongoing aspect of our program monitoring and evaluation.

As April arrived it was once again time for us to go to the annual EBME event at Milton Keynes (for which we are very grateful to John Sandham and his team) this time a two-day affair. Hilditch Group once again played hosts to our little stand and following the opening talk about the work of the Amalthea Trust from our Chairman of Trustees, Mike Hilditch, we had a steady flow of interested people coming our way for much of the time. Many thanks to volunteer Dave Robinson for helping out on that busy first day whilst Martin was stuck on the M5 in a 4-hour traffic jam!

Dave and Martin on the AT stand at EBME 2019.

Before her departure to pursue a future in BME research at London University, our excellent intern Elisabetta Frijia managed to complete almost all of the packages of teaching materials begun by Licia the previous year, and these have now been sent out to some of our experienced volunteers for comment and feedback. These materials are now available for all of our volunteers to use and in time will also be available for any BME teachers anywhere in the World to access from our website as part of our ongoing commitment to improving the quality of Biomedical Engineering in Low Resource countries.

Elisabetta’s work would not have been possible without our most recent grant from the Expat Foundation, whose wonderful support we would like to formally acknowledge here. In a recent re-orientation of their priorities the Trustees of the Foundation have decided to move away from supporting initiatives in East Africa and so our fruitful partnership will come to an end after this summer. Our sincere thanks to them for their help with both the Kyambogo Program and the Teaching Materials Project. The hunt is now on for a new funding partner for these projects.

Until next time!

The Amalthea Trust Team

April 29th 2019.

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