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Introduction to the main options when sourcing equipment

Once you have decided what equipment to donate, you need to decide where to source it. Will you buy new equipment or try to source second-hand equipment that has been refurbished?

For complex equipment (e.g. an ECG machine), different manufacturers will offer machines that vary widely in cost and specification. Newer models may have more features, but also be significantly more expensive.

Some newer manufacturers (often based in India or China) will provide equipment at much lower prices, but with the drawback of lower quality and therefore a higher risk of breakdown.

Equipment designed specifically for low-resource settings may be more durable, but not have as many features as other models.

Options to consider when purchasing equipment

There are four main options to consider when making equipment purchases, and the best option for your project will depend on your specific circumstances:

  1. New equipment from a big manufacturer

  2. Second-hand or manufacturer refurbished equipment from a big manufacturer

  3. Equipment produced for low-resource settings (often start-ups or NGOs)

  4. New cheap equipment of inferior quality

Some general advantages and disadvantages of each approach are summarised in the table.

We will cover each option in more detail in the next activity.

A table showing the general advantages and disadvantages of each option when sourcing equipment. 3 column table with the titles: Options, Advantages and Disadvantages. Option 1: New equipment from a big manufacturer. Advantages: Good quality, Access to service, spare parts and consumables. Disadvantages: Expensive to purchase, Difficult and expensive to maintain/repair, More functionality. Option 2: Second-hand or manufacturer refurbished equipment from a big manufacturer. Advantages: Less complicated to use than new equipment, Good price/quality, May come with a guarantee for availability of spare parts and consumables. Disadvantages:  Not as desirable as new equipment – recipients may want the ‘gold standard’. Option 3: Equipment produced for low-resource settings (often star-ups or NGOs). Advantages: Appropriate to setting: Both functionally and technically. Disadvantages: Unsure if the company will last (availability of spare parts), Not as desirable as new equipment – recipients may want to the ‘gold standard’. Option 4: New equipment of inferior quality (mostly produced in Asia). Advantages: Not expensive, Fast delivery. Disadvantages: No quality guarantees, Access to service/spare parts is often limited, Short life-time, Higher level of break downs.
Advantages and disadvantages of the four main approaches to sourcing medicinal equipment
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A screen readable PDF version is available to download.

Talking point

What do you think? Are there any advantages or disadvantages you can think of that we have not covered? Which option do you think would be best for a donation you are planning?

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This article is from the free online course:

Medical Equipment Donations to Low Resource Settings

St George's, University of London