The African Biomedical Engineering Consortium (ABEC) is a regional platform for promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in healthcare infrastructure and technologies for improved healthcare outcomes in Africa
To create a platform for building and nurturing academic, technical, innovation and entrepreneurship competencies needed to develop a robust and dynamic biomedical device sector for improved healthcare.
To serve as a multi-disciplinary focal point for articulating healthcare challenges, promoting excellence in human capital development and research, encouraging entrepreneurship among students and researchers, mobilizing resources and stimulating partnerships among key stakeholders in medical devices sector. All African Universities and institutions (e.g. R&D institutions, private and public sector, donors etc.) sharing this mission in and outside Africa wishing to contribute towards achievement of this mission are welcome to join.
Africa’s healthcare systems are at a turning point. A growing urban middle class is willing to pay for beer treatment. Donors and governments are now beginning to provide beer healthcare facilities and increased access to medicine, at least in urban area. Call are also been made to extend affordable health care services to rural poor areas. However, Africa lacks the skills needed to install, maintain, manage, upgrade, design and produce medical devices, leaving it ever more reliant on foreign technical expertise.
As such, thanks to UNECA’s initiative, “Promoting Biomedical Engineering (BME) Youth Innovations for Improved Healthcare Outcomes in Africa” , a consortium of universities and their partners founded African Biomedical Engineering Consortium (ABEC) in August 2012 and established its first steering committee in December 2012.
The following is an outline of two simple steps that ABEC expects to fundamentally change the above situation:
- Build the human capital needed to install, maintain and upgrade medical equipment;
- Nurture entrepreneurial and innovative skills to design and develop robust and commercially viable medical devices.
To meet these goals, a number of challenges need to be addressed. These include:
- Lack of clear common understanding of BME as a field of study
- Limited or lack of human capital to teach advanced (3rd -5th year BME courses)
- Limited BME teaching, learning and research facilities and materials
- Poor linkages between the medical and engineering faculties and difference in cultures of the two key professions that make up BME
- Lack of medical device industry in the respective countries – limiting partnerships and
- Lack of public sector support to health technologies as a major component of healthcare
In order to address the stated challenges in Africa, nine universities in Africa have partnered and formed ABEC and they work closely with a number of Partner Centers and institutions.