- Social Innovation Fellowship
MED International is a nonprofit that works on the supply, delivery and utilization of donated medical equipment to developing countries. Jayson Marwaha ’14 and a colleage of his, Han Sheng Chia '14, run the organization. Their Starr Fellowship proposal is part of MED International’s endeavor to increase the utilization of donated medical technology to Zanzibar. This will be accomplished in the summer of 2012 by working with recipients of medical equipment, the Ministry of Health and other local partners in Zanzibar over the course of 10 weeks.
MED International will broker its first international donation to Zanzibar, Tanzania in early 2012. This is a result of a partnership with the government of Zanzibar that Jayson established after meeting with the Second Vice President and Minister of Health of Zanzibar. The donations will support the implementation of Zanzibar’s extensive Essential Health Care Package, a government-run healthcare system overhaul. However, while donated technology may help alleviate high equipment costs and improve standards of medical care, it is of no use if the technology is not utilized on the ground. The Starr Fellowship will help Jayson and Hans gain a first-hand understanding of the barriers to utilization in Zanzibar.
While in Zanzibar, Jayson and Hans aim to conduct a 3-part project comprised of a qualitative study, a quantitative study and a solutions development phase. The qualitative study involves conducting focus group discussions and key informant interviews with administrators and health professionals involved with the procurement and utilization process. This phase will give them an initial understanding of the barriers to equipment utilization.
This will be followed by the quantitative phase in which they administer a survey that numerically documents the extent of underutilization and the reasons behind it. The results from this quantitative survey will form the baseline for future years to compare their rates of utilization.
The final phase involves working with local and international partners to develop solutions to underutilization. These solutions can take place on two fronts: the first front will be an enhancement of MED International's matching process (i.e., accurately matching a facility’s needs with technology that addresses those needs) to increase the relevance of donations to the local Zanzibar context. By better understanding the local epidemiology of health facilities and their specific needs, Jayson and Hans will be more able to procure equipment that is suited for them, in turn increasing their technology utilization rates. The second front involves working with partners on the ground to meet barriers to utilization. For example, should hospitals require medical technicians to be trained in maintenance, Jayson and Hans plan on working with training facilities to develop this relationship.
MED International’s commitment to Zanzibar’s medical equipment utilization extends far beyond Summer 2012. In the fall of 2012, Jayson and Hans will be refining MED International's matching and procurement processes based on their enhanced understanding of local needs. They will also move to offer a wider suite of services that increase the chances of utilization. This may include greater ties between technicians in Zanzibar and those working for US manufacturers. It may also include sourcing for spare parts and reagents that are necessary for the continued operation of the equipment. More importantly, MED International will maintain close ties with identified partners from Zanzibar who can coordinate our utilization strategies. It is crucial that MED International have a local network that can sustain the endeavor after Jayson and Hans's departure.