Biomedical engineering and healthcare delivery

For decades, doctors and nurses were seen as the major players in healthcare delivery but times have changed. Now there are many professionals who directly or indirectly influence healthcare delivery in the world.

One of these professionals is the biomedical engineer. Biomedical engineers combine their knowledge in medicine and biology with engineering practice and principles to develop devices and procedures to solve medical and health problems. Most of the advancements we see in the healthcare system today can be attributed to the them.

They also conduct research with medical scientists to develop and evaluate artificial organs, medical information systems, instrumentations, prostheses, health management and care delivery systems.

Another interesting feature about this crop of professionals is that they possess a strong background in electronics or mechanical engineering.

They link scientific discoveries with commercial applications to meet consumer and social needs. These and many more are the features of biomedical engineers in modern healthcare delivery.

Today, Biomedical Engineering (BME) has grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry in advanced countries, designing, producing devices and processing equipment to serve millions across the globe.

Examples of these products include pacemakers, infusion pumps, the heart-lung machine, artificial organs such as the dialysis machine, implants, artificial limbs, corrective lenses, facial prosthetics, etc. Another interesting dimension in recent years is the advancement in tissue engineering to make tissue regeneration possible using stem cell technology.

Ghana, a country with a growing economy, has also witnessed some advancements in the health and well-being of her citizens over the last few years through BME efforts that have positively impacted the healthcare industry.

The Dental School of the University of Ghana, the Accident and Orthopaedic Centre and the National Cardiothoracic Centre of Korle Bu Teaching Hospital are some of the few well-known units that use BME products but are minimally promoted.

BME has provided the ingenuity to transform medicine to a more contemporary state where technology has become integral in health delivery to the point that biomedical engineers in developed countries have rightfully claimed their status as indispensable.

The same cannot be said of the BME in Ghana. The few biomedical engineers in the country are even tagged as technicians. It is about time we made BME an indispensable tool in our healthcare delivery to improve technology and innovation in our healthcare centres.

This can be achieved by recognising the few biomedical engineers in the country and giving them their rightful responsibilities. Biomedical engineers in the country should also embark on a massive campaign to create awareness of the field in Ghana.

Finally, the few educational institutions in the country should provide a steady supply of well-trained and adequately skilled biomedical engineers who will be tasked with the responsibility of identifying and solving the country’s healthcare problems.