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2006/09/30

More Than a Donation: A Visit to Honduras

Honduras has been maintaining friendly relations with Taiwan, so GMISS has been providing Honduras with medical resources since its inception in 2005. To make sure the donated items achieve their maximum efficiency, GMISS sent two engineers Ming-Jhi Tzeng and Yuh-Ming Wu(Senior Engineers, Dept. of Biomedical Engineering, NTU Hospital) to Honduras for a follow-up investigation.

The 126-year-old San Filip Hospital, which received these medical resources from Taiwan, is the oldest and the second largest hospital of the capital of Honduras, Tegucigalpa. According to Hospital president, San Filip currently has 409 clinical beds, and the medical items it has received from GMISS are an electroencephalograph, bronchoscopes, mercury thermometers, cast saw, diagnostic tables, patient beds, resuscitation carts, surgical masks, viewboxes, dental X-ray system, oxygen concentrators, infant incubators, a phototherapy unit and so on.

The two engineers inspected the items for any damage that might have been caused during the shipping process, and they found that all items were generally in good condition except the leaning of the mainframe (main engine) of an incubator due to surface collision. They repaired the incubator, tested its functions and then sent it back to the delivery room. The other "trouble-free"items were distributed to the units where they are most needed. Among the items, the electroencephalogram (EKG) was distributed to the pediatric department as San Filip pediatricians consider it to be a practical instrument for diagnosing epilepsy. Being a sophisticated instrument, the EKG had to be unpacked, assembled and tested on the spot by the two engineers before being handed over to the pediatric department. They also showed San Filip engineer Mr. Raphael Lanza how to adjust the instrument.

Moreover, local physiologists encountered operation problems after receiving the tractor. After much discussion we found that there was a difference between the pressure units used in Taiwan and in Honduras. The Japan-made tractor was designed using the metric system, while locally made medical equipment were designed using the imperial system. Accordingly, local physiologists had to convert the pressure units to the metric system before operating the machine. To GMISS, it was a valuable experience.

San Filip engineer Mr. Raphael Lanza was involved in the entire process. While learning the adjustment of EKG, he especially required his technician to be present, pointing out the details to which the technician should attend and giving him the adjustment tool carried by our engineers --- so as to build up the self-maintenance capabilities.

According to local medical officials, birth rates are high in Honduras. However, there is a relatively meager supply of equipment for newborns, such as baby carriages (strollers), incubators, and Bilirubin Reduction Light. With birth rates in Taiwan continuing to decline and many hospitals downsizing their obstetrics and gynecology departments, more and more equipment for newborns are left unused. They become great sources of a medical collection that could be used for foreign donations.

Here are special thanks to the Embassy (of the Republic of China Tegucigalpa, Republic of Honduras) and Secretary Clara Yang, who accompanied us throughout the trip, for their full assistance. This trip would not have been so successful without their help.



GMISS work team with the pediatrician and the engineers at the San Filip hospital standing in front of the electroencephalograph set up by the work team.

GMISS engineer Wu with the pediatrician in the surgeries at the San Filip hospital having a discussion about their medical equipment

GMISS engineer Wu and Secretary Clara Yang with the hospital president and vice- president at the San Filip hospital

 
衛生福利部 Ministry of Health and Welfare, Taiwan ROC

台灣大學 醫學工程學研究所

Institute of Biomedical Engineering
National Taiwan University