Masanga Hospital

DTU students support sustainable healthcare in Sierra Leone

Friday 10 Jun 22



Jens E. Wilhjelm
Professor, Group leader
DTU Health Tech
+45 45 25 38 86

About The Masanga Project

The Masanga Project supports Sierra Leone’s health system through capacity building and sustainable healthcare to the country’s exposed citizens.

Read more here: Masanga Project (in Danish only) & Masanga Hospital (in English)

Interested in working in Masanga?

Contact Project Manager Cecilie Lochet if you are an engineering student, who are interested in learning more about the possibilities for working in Masanga.

Future trips are on the drawing board, where students with biomedical competencies and also students with water and power knowledge may be required.

Two DTU students help medical doctors save lives and improve the patient experience through technical support at Masanga Hospital.

Only very few volunteers, who come to work at the hospital in Masanga, have a technical background. Therefore, when engineering students Nicole Priddey and Anders Sonesson arrived in Sierra Leone early this year, they were bombarded with a myriad of technical problems that needed solving.

Nicole Priddey is a Master’s student in the Biomedical Engineering programme. In Masanga, she has been in charge of upgrading the hospital’s biomedical equipment.

“I am responsible for all the machines that are in the hospital. Everything from making an inventory of the medical equipment to installing several systems, such as a repairment system and a maintenance systems for the equipment”, Nicole says.

Anders Sonesson is a Master’s student in the Earth and Space Physics and Engineering programme, he was tasked with upgrading the electrical installation of the hospital both inside and outside, including optimization of the solar park at the hospital.

“In addition to the main task, there is constantly a lot of technical things that need to be fixed, so you are exposed to a huge variety of tasks and get to learn a lot of new things. It is fun!”, Anders adds.

The two students have been working closely together with Project Manager Cecilie Lochet, who holds a Master’s degree from DTU in Biomedical Engineering. In her role as project manager, she is the overall responsible person for the technical tasks.

Sustainable development

A major focal point for the work that the team has done in Sierra Leone is sustainability and capacity building. It is essential that all systems and protocols are in place and function for the local staff, otherwise the project will not be sustainable after they leave.

Masanga Hospital
Anders, Nicole, Cecilie, and hospital plumber, Skino, outside the newly established Technical Workshop at Masanga Hospital (private photo).

"As an engineer and as a person, I would definitely recommend this experience to anyone."
DTU Student Nicole Priddey

“We also very much hope to make an impact for the technical team at the hospital. They are the people, we are working with every day, and we want to make sure they can continue, when we leave. That they have the tools and knowledge to do their job. We have done weekly classes with the technical staff. They are very skilled plumbers and electricians etc., but they do not know very much about biomedical equipment. We teach them how to maintain the machines and how to do basic trouble shooting”, Nicole Priddey says.

Other tangible additions that the team has established to ensure that a functional technical support system at the hospital will be continued include establishing an office for the technical staff, providing tools and safety gear for the staff, and installing telephones to secure that communication protocols can be sustained. Ensuring a good line of communication between the technical staff, healthcare staff and management has also turned out to be of utmost importance.

“You learn a lot”

The general and basic theoretical knowledge that the students have obtained through their studies at DTU, may not directly have prepared them for their tasks in Sierra Leone. However, they point out that they have utilized their acquired abilities to learn new things fast and work methodically and systematically to solve problems. Competences that have been developed and honed during their undergraduate and graduate studies.

“Being here has improved my logical thinking and adaptability in way that I don’t think the theoretical education at DTU could do to the same extend. We have been forced to find solutions, be creative with the resources available, and handle pressure. I feel like I have learned so much and given so much as well. It has been challenging in many ways, and some things have not been fun, but it has definitely been worth it”, Anders concludes.

“As an engineer and as a person, I would definitely recommend this experience to anyone. We are already thinking about other projects for other students. There are tons of work to do here. I feel like I have learned a lot about myself and how I relate to others and act in different types of situations. Not everything is a bed of roses, but overall, you learn a lot and it is very enriching”, Nicole inserts.

Professor Jens E. Wilhjelm, who has been supervising Nicole and Anders from his office at DTU during their stay in Sierra Leone, is very enthusiastic.

“Projects like this have a huge impact. Both for this particular hospital and its patients of course, but certainly also for the students who are part of the project, and their personal development. In the big picture, what the students learn her at DTU from the courses given by our dedicated teachers, facilitate a transformation within the students. And this is boosted immensely during their stay in Sierra Leone as they are exposed to a significant degree of responsibility. Furthermore, their collaboration skills are seriously improved from an experience like this in an unfamiliar setting”, the professor says.

Masanga Hospital
Anders and Nicole repair a surgical microscope in the eye clinic at Masanga Hospital. Even though a lot of the equipment is old, it needs to be fixed, as there is rarely no spare equipment in the middle of the jungle (private photo).

Top photo: DTU Biomedical Engineering Master’s student Nicole Priddey repairs a pulse oximeter, Masanga, Sierra Leone (private photo).

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