The GiveWell Blog

Donated technological equipment

Business Week writes:

According to the World Health Organization, about half of the imaging equipment sent to developing countries goes unused because local technicians aren’t trained to operate it or lack the necessary spare parts.

(H/t Aman at THDBlog)

Is this possible?

(Note: I tried to find the original WHO source and all I could find was this article stating that “more than half of the medical equipment in developing countries is left unused or broken because it is too complicated or expensive to operate and repair,” which is substantially different.)


  • Why is that substantially different? I read the same meaning into the two statements.

  • Gena Rotstein on September 7, 2008 at 11:46 am said:

    Either way you read it, I am not surprised. I was recently in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and the Gates Foundation has built a new wing onto the Blackline County hospital that sits empty because there are no doctors who are trained to operate using the equipment. A stat that I read was there is 1 doctor for every 40,000 Ethiopians… While equipment is necessary, perhaps we should be addressing some of the more core issues facing developing countries.

  • Ron Noble on September 7, 2008 at 7:12 pm said:

    My father recently got a company to donate medical equipment that was specifically asked for by an organization that operates in several southern African countries. Surely this speaks to a problem in coordination, rather than some inherent or insurmountable problem with equipment donation.

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