Hospital equipment made by craftsmen in Malawi
Malawi barely has its own manufacturing industry. Businesses, institutions and even hospitals must therefore import their equipment from Europe, America and Asia. This imported equipment is often extremely expensive, too complex or of poor quality. This is why many hospitals in Malawi are filled with derelict equipment.
In collaboration with fellow designer Pim van Baarsen and commissioned by the Malawian business Sakaramenta, we developed a new collection of hospital equipment, giving hospitals in Malawi the opportunity to purchase affordable products with a warranty, and at the same time creating jobs and benefiting the nation’s economy.
RESEARCH Healthcare in Malawi
In order to better understand the existing state of Malawian healthcare and healthcare equipment we teamed up with five different hospitals, with some located in more developed cities and others in rural areas. We talked with experts, nurses and patients, attended live surgeries and thoroughly documented how their existing equipment was being used.
Throughout our research we found that most of the equipment was either too sophisticated for the job or of poor quality. For example, beds would either need electricity just to be adjusted, or they would collapse from family members merely sitting on the edge next to the patients. Because most equipment came from foreign donations, it came without warranty and was almost impossible to repair locally.
With the experts in the hospitals, we decided upon the most important and sorely needed equipment and carefully redesigned everything so that it satisfied the hospitals’ standards and circumstances.
What we designed
A full range of equipment including hospital beds, theatre stools, surgical tables and trolleys, room dividers, IV-bag stands, over-bed tables and laundry trolleys—all made to be low tech, affordable, strong and locally repairable.
THE FIRST PROTOTYPES
We teamed up with the company Sakaramenta to design and produce the new line of products. The collaboration with the craftsmen of Sakaramenta was incredible—from our first 3D computer models and technical drawings they immediately started making prototypes.
EYE FOR DETAIL
After many tests and adjustments, together we finally ended up with a complete line of hospital equipment. Upholding consistent quality is very important for all equipment, but especially when producing for the healthcare industry. In order to ensure that quality will be upheld, we produced moulds for every product and made a complete booklet with technical drawings and quality checklists.
With the completion of this line of equipment, Sakaramenta is now able to continue production while providing professional warranties. It has presented its collection at national fairs and has become Malawi’s foremost producer of high quality standard hospital equipment.