Biomedical engineering education and practice challenges and opportunities in improving health in developing countries
2011 Atlanta Conference on Science and Innovation Policy
While developed countries constantly pioneer new medical technologies, developing countries have been plighted with a lack of medical devices, resulting in poor health, poverty, and social inequality. Much of the medical equipment that these countries do have is broken, unusable due to a lack of electricity and infrastructure, or inappropriate for local needs. In 2000, the Global Forum for Health Research coined the term "10/90 Gap" to describe the fact that only 10% of health research funds
... h research funds are spent on the problems of 90% of the world's population. If the developing world is to acquire useful medical technologies, it must come from within, as the developed world has shown minimal interest in pursuing technologies for markets where the financial return is only nominal. If engineers in developed countries put their energy and resources into building the capacity of their counterparts in developing countries, they will be able to maximize their impact on the most relevant issues in global health. In order to succeed in their work abroad, biomedical engineers from developed countries must transition from being providers of solutions, to enablers of local innovation, thus contributing directly to both education and implementation. This paper addresses current challenges and appropriate solutions to tackle the lack of biomedical engineering education and innovation in developing countries.