Making Medical Donations Work

By Tina Rosenberg

In Friday’s Fixes column I wrote about organizations that collect usable surplus equipment and supplies from hospitals in the United States and ship it to hospitals that need them in poor countries.   Readers were generally enthusiastic about the environmental and health benefits of this idea, but some offered important cautions. Homira from Wash, D.C. (15) wrote:  “There are a slew of complex issues that make donations of any kind aside from financial  really poor practice for trying to help developing countries. When it comes to medical equipment donations, the consumables necessary to operate many of these machines, such as x-ray film, reagents, etc,  are often not considered prior to the donations; nor is life-cycle costing and maintenance and operational costing and support figured in. Subsequently we see a lot of discarded medical equipment lying around clinics, hospitals and dump sites in low-income countries we work in.”
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