Improving the functionality of medical devices in Kenya

Philips Foundation icon
Feb 04, 2019
By the Philips Foundation team
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​A joint effort between Philips Foundation and UNICEF to improve the management of medical devices in Kenya, got off to a great start by successfully completing its first phase.
Improving the functionality of medical devices in Kenya

With United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal 3 (ensuring healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages) in the back of our minds, Philips Foundation together with UNICEF and local health authorities started an ambitious project in rural Kakamega County, located in the west of Kenya.


​With the aim of making quality healthcare universally accessible, this project particularly focuses on improving the operational management of medical devices in healthcare facilities, ensuring the health of mothers and new-borns in disadvantages communities.


The project arose from the realization and experience that the sole placement of medical devices in a healthcare facility is not enough to guarantee a flawless operation over time. 


Pro-active equipment management, such as maintenance, well-defined repair workflows, presence of trained biomedical engineers, availability of spare parts, is crucial in order to keep it running at full capacity, and more importantly, to keep delivering the best possible outcomes that can be lifesaving.


Kakamega County was chosen to pilot the project's first phase, as local authorities recognized the crucial role of quality equipment in the provision of quality health services to communities.

"Please download our app"


The first phase of this project was an assessment of the current status of medical equipment in all 163 public facilities in Kakamega County. Using a dedicated assessment app, trained assessors collected information on the current status of placement and functionality of medical devices in the county.

The baseline study showed that a quarter to a third of all equipment was not functional at the time of the assessment, a strong confirmation of the relevance of the project! At the same time, the rich data obtained already provided direction for immediate improvement. For example, the number of uninstalled equipment decreased from almost 1000 to less than 10 in the months following the assessment.

​Moving forward


Based on the results, Philips Foundation, UNICEF and local and national health authorities have agreed to enter the next phase of the project, which will aim at strengthening medical equipment management in a sustainable way. Next to Kakamega county, also the more urban Nairobi county will be added to the project.


The project will install remote equipment monitoring in all level 3 and 4 facilities in these counties, as a way to keep track of the functionality of medical devices over time, which will be an important tool to immediately act on failure and preferably prevent it through preventive maintenance.


​At the same time, a program will be set up to enhance the skills of equipment management staff, such as biomedical engineers and strengthen the capacities for local equipment maintenance, repair and possibly even spare part manufacturing.


In this part of the project, the parties will leverage the skills and infrastructure established during another cooperation between Philips Foundation, UNICEF and other partners such as Concern Worldwide and the University of Nairobi: the Maker Movement for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.

​Improving access to care


To support the ambition that the methodologies developed in this project will actually improve the access to quality healthcare across Kenya, the project will also support the development of policies for the management of medical devices by providing clear evidence built from the implementation of the initiative.


The fact that maternal mortality (362 deaths per 100,000 live births) and the new-born mortality (22 deaths per 1,000 live births) is still high across Kenya underlines the importance of this project. It underlines we have to move forward to overcome the challenges that healthcare facilities in Kenya face, to ensure that we can make a difference and improve the lives of people in the heart of Africa.

Share this article