‘I Can Be Confident’
Badiene works as a biomedical technician in Senegal’s Ministry of Health, carrying the significant responsibility of fixing technical issues in the nation’s hospital equipment.
Sometimes when Badiene’s called on to repair, she comes face to face with a machine she’s never touched before.
“We were not aware of some of those machines and how they worked before,” she said. “So, it was really complicated for us to know how to fix.”
Biomedical technicians like Badiene play a crucial role in Senegal’s surgical, anesthetic, and obstetric systems. But they often lack access to continuing education and the opportunity to build their confidence when working with new machines.
Why are Biomedical Technicians Important?
As the nations of Africa work toward a 2030 plan for safe surgical, obstetric, and anesthetic systems, empowering and equipping the key healthcare workers in these fields is more important than ever.
Equipment malfunctions can be life-threatening for patients undergoing surgery.
Biomedical technicians keep medical and surgical machines well maintained, properly configured, and safely functioning. Without safe equipment, there is no safe surgery.
‘I Will Not Doubt Myself Again’
Recently, Mercy Ships and partner Optimum Biomedical collaborated with the Senegalese government to offer advanced training to Badiene and other local biomedical technicians. With hands-on training using state-of-the-art equipment, the technicians were able to increase their confidence and skills in order to perform some of the most important jobs in Senegal’s healthcare system.
For Badiene, the Mercy Ships training course was a turning point. Through hands-on experience with different machines, she learned how to handle unfamiliar equipment.
“Now, with this training, we are more aware of what it is and how to actually assess it, before actually working on it,” she said.
During the course, she and her fellow students practiced testing the machines to make sure they had set them up correctly.
“Before, we were blindly doing it,” she said. “But with this … we can run the test and see that everything works and be confident saying: ‘We did everything the right way.’ Now I will feel confident when I declare a machine is well calibrated.”
Raising the Medical Capacity of Senegal
Another Senegalese biomedical technician, Toure, participated in the training on board the Global Mercy®. He had been struggling with a lack of knowledge about the specific equipment he needed to work with.
Toure was trained on older technical models in school. By the time he finished his education, those machines were no longer relevant. Every year, new machines were introduced — ones he was not equipped to fix.
“The new machines were more challenging, so we had to adapt without any support or information that could guide us,” he said.
That changed when Toure took the biomedical technician training course. He was able to practice on those newer models that he hadn’t been able to access.
“I actually learned from these machines,” he said. “For somebody who has been in the medical system for a long time, it has brought me a lot to change the work I do.”
Toure believes this training will benefit the government of Senegal and the Ministry of Health.
“They lose a lot of machines due to lack of maintenance,” he said. “Due to lack of reliable machines, certain types of care have been shut down. So, the patients will gain in the variety of services that the hospital can provide them.”
As part of the biomedical technician training, Mercy Ships donates test equipment to each technician’s hospital, enabling them to continue practicing their new skills and keeping their patients safe.
Toure believes the impact of this training will be exponential. Now that he’s learned — he will also teach others in his own community.
“We are able to train … any other biomedical technician to the level that we are and raise the capacity of the country.”
Learn more about the lasting impact that comes from training key healthcare professionals in Senegal and beyond here.