MedAID are a charity on a mission to bridge the gap between surplus medical devices and equipment and the shortage of medical equipment in resource-limited countries.
To do this, they collect unwanted, but perfectly viable, medical equipment from hospitals throughout the UK to send straight to under-resourced medical institutions abroad.
This is an awesome idea, and their hard work is paying off as they rapidly expand their operations and close the gap between excess and shortage.
We are supporting MedAid by acting as a supplier of reuse medical equipment and helping hospitals to reuse medical waste, making sure it's going to the right people.
We spoke to MedAID President, Alba Saenz de Villaverde, and Vice President, Shazlin Shek Daud, to find out more.
Tell us about your vision
Alba (left) and Shazlin (Right).
We know that climate change is a significant threat yet, paradoxically, medicine also presents a considerable impact to the environment; the NHS is the largest public-sector contributing to greenhouse gas emissions in the UK.
While much progress has been made, our work shows more still needs to be done to develop sustainable strategies and public health policies that will benefit the health of communities as well as the planet.
All too often we focus solely on the health of the patient, forgetting that we’re intricately linked to our environment; we can’t provide the best patient care while ignoring the damage, pollution and suffering inflicting on ourselves and future generations.
We are rethinking the current healthcare system, and the treatment of our environment, by reducing waste in the NHS and working towards a sustainable healthcare system – both nationally and globally.
We firmly believe that every individual has the right to healthcare, and so we advocate for equity and accessibility to healthcare resources for those who do not have the voice to do so.
What does Student MedAID do to make this vision happen?
Every year, the healthcare sector generates 100 million tonnes of solid waste, 85 per cent of which generally ends up in landfill. We collect unwanted and out of date medical equipment from hospitals in Edinburgh, throughout the UK and coordinate its redistribution to under-resourced medical institutions abroad.
Hospitals, organisations and members of the public throughout the UK contact us to donate equipment which is either sterilised, packaged or appropriately sealed. The equipment is collected by our volunteers and delivered or posted to our headquarters at the University of Edinburgh, which is also home to our storeroom.
The items that we store are categorised in their respective uses, which includes: general medical, surgical, respiratory, urinary, cardiovascular, paediatrics, gastroenterology and emergency. These vary from generalised equipment, such as gowns, gloves and masks to specialist instruments such as craniotomy sets and bone marrow biopsy needles.
Medical students on electives, humanitarian health workers and global organisations then redistribute this equipment to under-resourced healthcare institutions abroad.
You’ve made some impressive achievements so far! Tell us about them
Over the past year alone, we’ve worked with an increasing number of charities such as the Gambia Volunteers Trust, AlBir-SCIO (Chad), Rock Project Uganda, Project Soweto (South Africa) and others to deliver equipment to up to 11 different countries throughout the world.
With more students, universities and NHS trusts getting involved, we’ve grown from being a local Edinburgh charity to a nationally recognised movement throughout the UK. We’ve helped open a new sister organisation in Leeds and are looking forward to expanding to London, Oxford, Birmingham, Aberdeen and Dundee over the coming months.
We’ve also begun to receive equipment from Oxford, London, Leicestershire and even as far as North Devon. Our capacity for storage, collection and donation is increasingly expanding, and we hope to continue this so we can donate larger volumes to an increased number of places.
What challenges do you face?
The impact we make largely depends on the cooperation between students, medical professionals and members of the public, so we are continually looking to expand our network while solidifying local, national and international cooperation.
Without this support, ideas and donations we wouldn’t have been able to put this mission into action in the first place!
While, in a way, we are a short-term effective solution for the surplus of NHS waste, our ambitious long-term goal is to change the way the NHS operates, ensuring a sustainable future without compromising patient care. We’re encouraged by the continued support from hospital staff and volunteers to help us, help others and help the environment. We will continue to build our networks and raise awareness through our social media platforms, workshops and presentations to hospital departments.
How can people get involved and support MedAID?
We are always looking for passionate members to join our committee, our volunteer network, donate unwanted medical equipment, and even set up their own local Student MedAID. Just taking a few moments can make a huge difference in our community.