According to the World Health Organisation, almost half of all donated medical equipment is never actually used. The best way to ensure that donated goods are used is to make sure that the right equipment is donated at the right time, based on what the country actually needs, not what we think they might need. The Melanie Jewson Foundation is committed to the ethical and responsible donation of medical equipment, and we hope that all our donated equipment is appropriate and useful. This is why we have developed a guideline for the donation of medical equipment. The guideline addresses the following areas:
- Needs Assessment – this is the process by which we find out what is needed and how badly. It is done by asking the people on the ground, both at VCH and in Government, and then looking at what we at MJF are capable of supplying, and finding the perfect balance.
- Appropriateness – this requires that each specific donation is checked off to make sure it is the right donation, the right model or type of equipment for example. This is important so that it fits in seamlessly at VCH and makes life easier, rather than harder.
- Quality – we are committed to providing the highest quality donations that comply with Australian and Vanuatu standards. If it isn’t good enough for us to use, it isn’t good enough for Vanuatu either. This might mean buying new products, refurbishing durable equipment to original manufacturing standards, or deciding not to donate expired sterile equipment.
- Logistics – it might be a little boring, but if we can’t get equipment to Vanuatu in good condition, it can’t be used. Therefore we need to make sure all the logistics are figured out prior to making a purchase.
- Maintenance – it is important that donated equipment can be maintained on the ground in Vanuatu. If parts break or gets lost, they should be easy to replace, and straightforward to fix. This usually means getting a tick of approval from the local biomedical engineers.
- Disposal – sometimes the donation of unwanted equipment leads to the use of developing countries as a kind of dumping ground. We want to avoid this, and so we want to make sure that either VCH or us at MJF accept responsibility for disposal of the equipment in the future.
- Monitoring and Evaluation – we want to make sure that when we do donate equipment it is useful. Therefore we can look at donations we’ve made in the past, check our processes to make sure they are working and identify areas that could be improved in the future.
It seems like a lot of work for each single donation, and it is! But it is also really important for making sure we are doing what we aim to do, that is donating medical equipment that makes the life of VCH staff easier, rather than harder, and ultimately improves the health of the people of Vanuatu.
You can read the full guideline here.
 WHO (2011), Medical device donations: considerations for solicitation and provision. Available from: https://www.who.int/medical_devices/management_use/manage_donations/en/