Han Sheng Chia '14

ZANZIBAR UTILIZATION PROJECT

MED International is a non-profit that brokers equipment donations from the US to public health facilities in Zanzibar, Tanzania. We work closely with Zanzibar's Ministry of Health and strive to make donations with the intent of full utilization.

Zanzibar's public hospitals currently lack access to medical equipment ranging from basic nebulizers to sophisticated operations microscopes. Our system of collecting donations of used, but fully functional equipment from US hospitals and repurposing them in Zanzibar aims to solve this lack.

However, studies have shown that of all medical technology donated to the developing world, only about 30% is actually put to use by the recipient health facility. The remaining 70% is disposed of, stored away indefinitely, or sold for the value of scrap metal. This can be attributed to two things:

1. A mismatch of donated equipment and 2. Barriers to utilization

A mismatch occurs when donors deliver equipment that is not congruous with the needs or capacity of the recipient. Barriers to utilization involve obstacles such as a lack of skilled technicians to maintain and repair equipment.

MED International believes that suppliers have a role to play in ensuring that donated equipment is fully utilized. We both deliver equipment and strive to adopt strategies of good matching and barrier elimination. 

Members from our team will be in Tanzania for 10 weeks this summer to better understand needs and tailor solutions to the local context. 

PERSONAL STATEMENT 

Han Sheng is a sophomore concentrating in Development Studies. Having grown up in the household of a public health professor, he has been exposed to the burdens facing the international health community. In 2011, he conducted a 5-week study funded by Brown to evaluate the health care standards of children's homes in Pokhara Nepal. The study involved developing and implementing a survey that covered areas ranging from hygiene, to water access and availability of medical treatment. The project was borne out of an interest in Pokhara's institutionalized children, after having made an initial visit in 2010.

He now works with Jayson Marwaha as Co-President of MED International having joined in October 2011. 

Check out Han Sheng Chia's Blog Post