Managing the Import and Use of Healthcare Technology in Sub-Saharan Africa

Temple-Bird, Caroline (2005). Managing the Import and Use of Healthcare Technology in Sub-Saharan Africa. PhD thesis The Open University.



This Thesis investigates the import and use of healthcare technology into Sub-Saharan Africa. With the increasing range of equipment types present in the health sector, the effective management of technology is of growing importance if health services are to improve in developing countries. Yet this sector has been relatively neglected within the traditional technology transfer, management, and development literature.

The activities and players involved in the healthcare technology sector are complex, thus an holistic healthcare technology package system is identified, and theoretically and practically assessed as a modelling framework. This tool is applied to provide detailed analysis in three case study countries over time - Zambia in 1990, Botswana in 1992, and Namibia in 1997, with a documented learning process.

The key issue pursued is how to improve the sustainability of healthcare technology. This proves fundamentally to be a management issue, and five overarching key constraints emerge-:

* the institutional framework available for delivering healthcare technology management throughout a country,

* training personnel and developing a national technical management capacity;

* sufficient allocation of financial resources;

* technical support availability from the private sector,

* the role played by external support agencies.

These five issues are studied in detail with support from relevant literature. The research proves that it is necessary to approach the subject from three perspectives. Thus a Thesis framework is used which ensures that healthcare technology is analysed as a Technological Systems issue, an Institutional Organization issue, and a Development issue. The area of overlap between these perspectives is key to finding creative solutions for sustainability.

The conclusions show that cross-denominational strategies will be essential between health service providers, the national support environment, donors agencies, the private sector, and the region. All institutions involved need to find ways to become 'learning organizations' in this field.

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