Equipping a new generation of engineers with the skills to manage medical equipment safely and effectively.

In the north east region of the Copperbelt Province in Zambia, Patricia Kaluluma is embarking on her third year of Biomedical Engineering Technologist (BMET) Training at the Northern Technical College (NORTEC) in Ndola.

THET has been running the BMET course since September 2013 and has an annual intake of 30 students.  It involves a mixture of theoretical learning, hands on workshop practice, and hospital based experiential learning. At the beginning of 2016 THET won further funding from the UK Department for International Development to expand the project and training further.

Patricia hopes the training in maintenance and management will help her make a difference at health facilities by improving the life and function of equipment. She also wants to use the training as a stepping stone to pursue in a degree in Biomedical Engineering.

‘It’s an interesting job, it’s not routine. It keeps you thinking and active.’

The lack of trained technologists in district hospitals in Zambia means that much equipment is left broken and unused, even though around 40% of it is fixable.

It’s by addressing these issues that Patricia is being equipped with the necessary skills to be able to improve the situation in district hospitals.

‘I’ve been able to learn how different equipment operates, carry out proper trouble shooting techniques, maintenance and repairs. And ensure correct equipment, in terms of specification, are safely procured.’

As well as the training of Technologists, the project is also training trainers so training can continue once project activities come to an end.

It’s an approach that Patricia is embracing herself, keen to teach the next generation about the valuable and exciting role Engineers and Technologists can play. Not only that, she wants to get more women involved, bucking the trend of this male dominated profession.

‘I hope I can go out on a tour to various high schools and give talks about BMET training to girls so that more girls can pursue this training.’