Student charity delivers unwanted medical equipment to developing countries
Edinburgh students and alumni are collecting out of date medical equipment and excess supplies and sending them to places worldwide where they are needed most.
The charity aims to stop shortage and end excess, by acting as a middleman between those who would otherwise dispose of perfectly usable equipment and those who can take it to people in desperate need.
Supplies are transported via MBChB students on electives or doctors, vets and organisations travelling to developing countries.
As well as medical students the committee includes vet student representatives as they also collect surplus veterinary supplies to be sent to clinics and shelters worldwide. The charity has a fund which can assist with baggage costs to ensure that the supplies get to where there are desperately needed.
Corrine Cao graduated this summer after undertaking her medical elective in Grace Medical Services in Kunming, China. She distributed a range of supplies to the clinic, including slings, casts, foam dressings, hand drills and drapes for use in the minor surgery unit.
Corrine reported back that the supplies proved invaluable in cases that she encountered whilst there. These included contracture release in burns and amputations, and a young girl with osteomyelitis who was extremely grateful to receive a cast walker boot.
It’s a great way of recycling unused equipment from our hospitals to other facilities that require them more. This minimises waste and also ensures the sustainability of other health institutions that do not receive as much financial support.
Ed Tulloch also graduated this summer and took MedAID supplies with him to a small mission hospital in the Gambia. He arrived with a supply of gloves just in time to replenish the hospital’s stocks which had just run out.
I was able to take a whole suitcase of items which the hospital requested, ranging from gloves to urinary catheters to resuscitation equipment. I think it's a hugely important work because this equipment is desperately needed outside the UK but we often discard it on expiry. It was very rewarding to see the gratefulness of the staff receiving the kit.
As well as current medical students the charity also works with practicing doctors and humanitarian health workers. Simon Durkin is an MBChB 2014 graduate and contacted MedAID ahead of an FY3 trip to Tanzania.
Simon had previously travelled to Tanzania on his student elective and planned the return trip ahead of undertaking his specialty training. His aim was to gain more experience of the challenges facing rural healthcare and of those relevant to a career in tropical medicine and infectious diseases.
The items from MedAID helped to replenish essential items in stores, such as sutures, gloves, needles, and syringes. All are costly and the hospital receives little reliable government funding, yet is obliged to assist the impoverished local population. Additionally, some consumables can't always be obtained, even from elsewhere in the country.
Earlier this year, MedAID collaborated with Re-Act, a Scottish charity that ships various types of supplies to refugee camps. They were able to send vital and rare medical equipment to a camp in Yemen, and make use of bulky items that are difficult to transport, such as baby weighing scales and X-ray plates.
Hannah Patterson is a current MBChB student at Edinburgh and is Resource Director within the charity. She decided to become involved after witnessing first-hand the excessive waste of medical supplies in the UK in contrast to the desperate need for them elsewhere around the world.
Last year was our most successful year to date and it's truly inspiring to hear about the massive impact you can have on so many lives, especially through liaising with other organisations.
MedAID is currently accepting donations.
If you are interested in donating or distributing, contact email@example.com for a current inventory and list of requested items. For the veterinary branch contact firstname.lastname@example.org