Published By: BHI Communications

Press Release: BHI Trains 500 Biomedical Personnel

 Biomedical Trainees in Nkhata Bay, Malawi

Build Health International Celebrates over 500 Trained in Medical Oxygen Plant Maintenance and Management in Blantyre, Malawi 

Beverly, MA–In July 2023, Build Health International (BHI), in partnership with the Malawi Ministry of Health, successfully completed medical oxygen training programs in Lilongwe, Nkhata Bay, and Blantyre. Biomedical engineers, technicians, and hospital administrators were trained on the operation, maintenance, and management of medical oxygen pressure swing adsorption (PSA) plants. Trainees left with a deep understanding of medical oxygen systems and the skills to maintain them, ensuring a sustained supply of this essential medicine across Malawi. 

BHI Biomedical Engineer, Maxwell Mataka, with trainees in Nkhata Bay, Malawi

Biomedical engineer at Mercy James Hospital in Blantyre and trainee, Joyce Mwenesungo, underscored the importance of training. “The knowledge is really important because it’s going to cut down the down time of the plant…That means our patients will be getting the right care and the right medicine, since oxygen is medicine and it can’t be replaced by anything else.”

The importance of medical oxygen was demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many countries including Malawi experienced shortages of the medicine that is crucial to treating severe cases. Medical oxygen is also vital for the treatment of other respiratory illnesses such as tuberculosis as well as surgery and postnatal care. Beginning in 2020, Build Health International has led the effort to bridge the gap in the supply of medical oxygen, including assessment, repairs, and installation of PSA plants, and perhaps most importantly, the training of local engineers and technicians to maintain and repair these plants. 

The three-week training program had 110 trainees, all of whom learned about the crucial role of medical oxygen and the precautions required to handle this vital medicine. Plant technicians and engineers were trained in the operation, daily maintenance, and routine repairs of PSA plants and received tool kits, months worth of daily maintenance checklists and repair logs, and printed training materials. Hospital administrators, ministry of health employees, and other key staff were equipped with the necessary information to effectively integrate plants and piped oxygen into the Malawian health system.

Trainees during practical session at PSA plant

By training 110 participants, BHI celebrated an exciting milestone: 500 trainees since beginning its biomedical training program in 2022. In addition to Malawi, BHI has completed training in numerous countries including Cameroon, Lesotho, Liberia, and Rwanda and in several languages: English, French, Kinyarwanda, and Chichewa. Malawian Ministry of Health’s Director of Health Technical Support Services Godfrey Kadewere said that the country needs more  biomedical equipment technicians, therefore the training is a “milestone” for Malawi as well. “It has to start with the training. We are hoping that the ones who have been trained in this session will also train others so that we ensure that each and every district has the technical engineers capable of maintaining PSA plants.” 

BHI anticipates the same powerful ripple effect too, as its team of hardworking engineers has several upcoming trainings across sub-Saharan Africa and looks to sustainably equipping  all health systems with life-saving oxygen.

Fire safety practical session in Nkhata Bay, Malawi