Martin returned recently from a one week visit to Zambia where he teamed up with representatives from the Tropical Health Education Trust to explore the possibilities of the Amalthea Trust working in the country. We were of course keen to find out if our volunteers could add any real value to the training of Biomedical Engineers in Zambia, and if so what form such an intervention could take. We visited Evelyn Hone College in Lusaka where they have a BME Diploma currently training 100 BME students in each year, as well as two of the larger hospitals in the city University Teaching Hospital and Levy Mwanawasa (a new 1,000 bed hospital still being built by the Chinese). Both the staff at Evelyn Hone and the BMEs in the hospitals were very welcoming and we have instigated a consultation via email with all of these potential stakeholders to try and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to provide input into how we approach this. There is clearly a real need for some practical hands-on training for the Evelyn Hone students, as well as a need for some CPD for the already serving BMEs, and we will do our best to keep our body of prospective volunteers appraised as to when and what form any volunteering opportunities might take.
However, the timing of this exciting new program is now of course rather up in the air as the World battles the Coronavirus pandemic. We should all, every one of us, spare a thought for the BMEs working hard to keep the equipment working for our frontline Doctors and Nurses so that they can lead the fight against Covid-19. In particular, let us keep in our thoughts those BMEs in Sub-Saharan Africa who will be struggling to keep the ICUs going in the face of shortages of both key equipment and the necessary spares. These are very difficult times indeed.