This article is extracted from the Engineering World Health blog.

Engineering World Health (EWH) strongly believes the key to succeeding in our mission is building strong partnerships wherever we go. That’s why we’re joining Medshare International in Coca-Cola Nigeria’s “Safe Birth Initiative” to support the Ministry of Health in Nigeria in reducing maternal and newborn mortalities.

Engineering World Health focuses on the repair and maintenance of medical equipment in health facilities as well building the capacity of local personnel to manage and maintain lifesaving equipment without depending on external support. The in-house capability is essential for seamless provision of healthcare that saves lives.

The journey to making this vision a reality began in 2014, when Engineering World Health built a Biomedical Equipment Technician (BMET) Training program at Lagos University Teaching Hospital in Nigeria. Today, the certified and accredited school is located on LUTH’s campus, in a building commissioned by the Minister of Health specifically for teaching BMETs. EWH has trained close to a hundred BMETs representing 22 of Nigeria’s states, and the school is recognized as the standard for other schools to follow.

Starting October 15, Engineering World Health will run a special two-week training session at LUTH. The training will be held within the framework of the Safe Birth Initiative – a Coca-Cola championed program aimed at tackling the high incidence of maternal and infant mortality in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Medshare. 20 BMETs from 10 public hospitals in Nigeria will come together to enhance their training on neonatal medical equipment.

This intensive training course will cover BMET professional standards, as well as detailed instruction on a number of neonate-specific equipment including incubators, infant warmers, and phototherapy lamps.


Neonatal Medical Equipment Ready for BMET Training

The class will also have medical equipment and tools for students to practice with. The students will be given additional resources to help them extend their learning beyond the class, including the EWH open source online Library and a thumb drive with the course information preloaded.  Each student will also join EWH’s Nigeria Biomed Group on WhatsApp so they can connect with other BMETs in Nigeria.

The program focuses on building sustainable capacity in public hospitals. While Medshare provides equipment and supplies, EWH will provide training for BMETs to ensure the long-term viability of the donations. BMETs will also have the skills necessary to repair and return to service abandoned equipment already in hospitals.


The Classroom is Ready and Waiting for BMET Students

According to UNICEF’s 2016 State of the World’s Children report, about 40,000 women and 260,000 newborns (excluding 300,000 stillborn) die during or shortly after child birth in Nigeria annually. For this reason, maternal and neonatal mortality is considered one of the worst public health crises in Nigeria and a major priority for the Government in its resolve to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Safe Birth Initiative represents Coca-Cola’s long-standing commitment to women and the well-being of communities, and, following this initial training in Nigeria, Coca-Cola expects to work with the Ministries of Health in Ivory Coast and Nigeria to reduce the high maternal and newborn mortalities in both countries. Through strong public-private partnerships, Coca-Cola is working to create jobs, make medical care more accessible, and give back to its communities.

This partnership and training will help improve access to quality healthcare for women and newborns in Nigeria, and help build a stronger, sustainable healthcare system for the future.