MUBAS partners with Oxygen Alliance for quality healthcare

News   Peter Bwanali   September 19, 2023
PIC: The Vice Chancellor Assoc. Prof. Nancy Chitera (left)
In an effort to improve health care for the general Malawi population and enhancement of industry engagement, The Malawi University of Business and Applied Sciences (MUBAS) on 15 September 2023 signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Oxygen Alliance, a consortium of health care advocates, aimed at enhancing the quality provision of health care services focusing on maintenance and repair of sorted medical equipment.

Under the signed MOU agreement, two students from the Biomedical Engineering will be hosted at Oxygen Alliance for an internship annually to acquire practical skills in the maintenance and repair of medical equipment. It has also been provided under the same MOU that Oxygen Alliance will provide technical support through expert engineers in Biomedical Engineering who will seconded to the University to provide hands-on experience on general maintenance and repair of medical equipment and assist in teaching some modules within the school of engineering, especially in the Biomedical Department. 

In her remarks during the signing ceremony, MUBAS Vice Chancellor, Associate Professor Nancy Chitera, highlighted that the agreement would propel the University to achieve its vision of being a centre of excellence in providing quality education, which will address the nation's needs and beyond.

‘’The mission of the University emphasizes collaboration with the industry to enable the University to produce top-notch entrepreneurs and innovative graduates who would provide solutions to the nation. The collaboration with Oxygen Alliance is another huge stride in the realisation of the University`s aspirations of bringing positive change to the Malawian society,’’ said Chitera.

Chitera encouraged all staff members from the School of Engineering to embrace a cultural shift in addressing societal issues. This change should be evident in their curriculum, particularly in regards to the prevalent habit of needlessly discarding repairable public equipment, which results in significant wastage of valuable public resources. 

"As an institution, we are ready to lead in this cultural change, ‘’ Chitera pledged. She then encouraged Oxygen Alliance to develop innovative suggestions in the Biomedical Engineering program, which could inform the curriculum to make it more responsive and relevant and compare favourably with other Biomedical Engineering programs across the Globe. 

Chitera also reassured the public that the University was ready to develop tailor-made short-term training to address challenges faced by the industry in repairing and maintaining Biomedical Engineering equipment, which has affected the quality of healthcare service delivery. 

In her remarks, Oxygen Alliance Director, Ms. Phoebe Khagame, said her organisation came into being as a response to innovative ways of responding to the effects of the Covid-19 crisis when Sanrai International and Global Health Informatics Institute (GHII) came together to solve the challenges of non-functioning oxygen equipment which were in high demand in saving lives for the many people affected by the pandemic and in the process a considerable number of lives were lost. 

She added that her organisation was creating a sustainable ecosystem for repairing and maintaining medical equipment aimed at saving colossal costs incurred in procuring life-saving equipment. Khagame said the MoU would create a platform for ‘’seamless’’ collaboration between academics and other healthcare stakeholders. 

“There has been a move for more allocation of funds towards repairing medical equipment instead of rushing to purchase new equipment while ignoring the economic benefits of repair and maintenance of the available equipment” as stated by Mr. Gerald Douglas who is the Academic Lead for Oxygen Alliance 

Douglas expressed his concern about the wastage of faulty equipment that could be easily repaired but is left unused for many years. He emphasized the importance of having skilled engineers who can efficiently fix such equipment, making it more long-lasting within our local community. This approach would be more beneficial than purchasing new equipment, which is often expensive and not feasible for low-income countries.

He added that local innovators should be supported to develop environmentally adaptive equipment, which is the sole reason Oxygen Alliance exists and would want to bridge the gap between big manufacturers and local innovators for cost-effective means of managing the medical equipment in our health facilities. 

During the ceremony, the MUBAS team delivered presentations highlighting the significant progress made by the University in recent years. These achievements were accomplished through various projects supervised by the School of Engineering, aimed at enhancing medical care within our healthcare facilities. 

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