First Biomedical Engineering Innovators Summer School gets Underway


ECA Press Release 130/2012

Kampala, 7 August 2012 (ECA) - The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Makerere University, Kyambogo University and the Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI) opened the first ever Biomedical Engineering “Innovators Summer School for 2012” (ISS-2012) that runs this week from 6-10 August 2012 in Kampala, Uganda.

Mr. Victor Konde, Scientific Affairs Officer at the ECA at the opening ceremony said that Africa spends huge sums of money importing expensive medical equipment. He pointed out however, that a good proportion of this equipment remains unused or “has a short life services due to limited expertise to install, maintain and upgrade medical devices.” He called on the students to come up with innovative, robust, and easy to use and maintain biomedical device solutions to meet Africa’s unique challenges. Mr. Konde was speaking on behalf of Ms Aida Opoku-Mensah, Director of ICT, Science and Technology Division at the ECA.

Dr. Justinso Amandua, the Commissioner, Clinical Services spoke on behalf of Dr. Christine Ondoa, the Minister of Health, Uganda and highlighted the many challenges that the Ministry of Health and hospitals are facing in the country and stated that a number of workshops are full of equipment waiting to be installed and repaired due to limited qualified and experienced human capital.

“It is heart breaking to find expensive equipment serving as shelves for books,” he said and promised his Ministry’s support to all the universities offering biomedical engineering training.

The Vice Chancellor of Kyambogo University, Prof. Isaiah Ndiege, stated that his institution’s biomedical engineering programme was launched following the request of the Ministry of Health and added: “the students being trained have had a major impact in repair and calibration of equipment at national hospitals they have visited.” He called on the ECA and other universities involved in the initiative to develop a strategy that will bring on board more institutions.

For his part, the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof. V. Baryamureeba said that biomedical engineering is a multidisciplinary field that requires close collaboration between the schools of medicine, engineering and information technology. The biomedical engineering programme at Makerere University, he said, has been the result of close collaboration between the various schools, whose principles and deans were represented at the launch.

Twenty-three projects, aimed at addressing specific health care challenges were presented by the 25 participating students. These included robust, simple and cheaper designs of ECG; malaria auto-machine; automated drug dispenser; and a mobile phone vital signs multi-sensor.

A team of 9 judges drawn from six participating universities and three independent experts selected 9 projects that student teams will seek to advance over the next five days. The students will attend interactive courses and presentations that will cover the design of medical devices, the needs of medical device users and business opportunities. In addition, a number of tours have been arranged to expose students to modern biomedical equipment and their design and costs, as well as business and career opportunities for biomedical engineers.


The Summer School is one of the main components of the Engineering Expertise Improved Healthcare in Africa, a project that is implemented by the ECA with the financial support of the Republic of Korea and technical support of LEED at Boston University. Additional components of the project include Biomedical Engineering (BME) curriculum development, International Design Competition and Training of Technicians and Professionals. The programme was launched in April 2011.

Currently, there are six universities participating in the initiative: Addis Ababa University, Kenyatta University, Kyambogo University, Makerere University, University of Malawi, University of Nairobi and University of Zambia. Joining soon is Moi University. A number of support institutions are involved, including the Uganda Industrial Research Institute, National Technology Business Centre (Zambia), Cape Town University, Stellenbosch University and the Medical Research Council of South Africa.

For details, contact:

Ms Aida Opoku-Mensah, Director, ICT, Science and Technology for Division (ISTD), ECA
Mr. Victor Konde, Scientific Affairs Officer, ISTD, UNECA


Issued by:

ECA Information and Communication Service
P.O. Box 3001
Addis Ababa Ethiopia

Tel: 251 11 5445098 Fax: +251-11-551 03 65

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© 2012 Economic Commission for Africa