Capacity Development for Health Care Professionals and Biomedical Technicians

Project description

Title: Capacity Development for Health Care Professionals and Technicians
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Ethiopia 
Lead executing agency: Federal Ministry of Health of Ethiopia
Overall term: 2018 to 2021

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Primary healthcare in Ethiopia has improved thanks to the establishment of a three-tier health system and a community-based health extension workforce. According to the 2015/16-2019/20 Health Sector Transformation Plan (HSTP), however, the availability and capacity of the country’s health services and the quality of healthcare still need to be improved. 

The increase in qualified healthcare staff from 37,397 (2005) to 66,134 (2009) stems from the addition of 31,804 health extension workers at the lower levels of care. However, there is still a shortage of mid-level personnel (midwives, nurses and health officers), and of doctors. By 2025, a further 180,446 specially trained health professionals will be needed. The main challenge is a lack of practical focus and a shortage of trainers with the appropriate skills and experience.

The country's health facilities are equipped with large numbers of old and defective biomedical devices as well as new devices that have not yet been connected. Neither the healthcare facilities nor the responsible administrations have maintenance contracts. Health care professionals often receive no instructions, and operators face organisational and financial difficulties when it comes to obtaining spare parts and consumables. Engineers and technicians who have already been employed by public healthcare facilities and health authorities have to deal with unrealistic expectations and lack the resources needed for their work. To date, there is no national strategy, nor any coherent regulations on the management of biomedical equipment.

Little coordination takes place between managers, technicians and users, with respect to the operation of the biomedical equipment. The framework conditions needed to facilitate the practical training of health care specialists are inadequate, exacerbating the problem of the need for qualified trainers and equipment maintenance.


Framework conditions for the practice-oriented training of selected specialists in the health sector have been improved.


Over the three year period, the project will establish a transferable model of practical vocational training, a prototype repair workshop and an approach that effectively harnesses the skills of both biomedical technicians and specialised health care staff.

The project’s target group is the part of the overall population of Ethiopia which uses the healthcare facilities in the area covered by the supraregional workshop at Nekemte Referral Hospital, whose role is to maintain and repair biomedical equipment. This area covers the western part of Oromia, Benishangul-Gumuz and parts of Amhara regions. The project also involves trainees at those vocational schools with which the project will collaborate. Most of these are young adults. Around 20per cent of Ethiopia’s population are between the ages of 15 and 24.

The federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) is responsible for implementing the Health Sector Transformation Plan. On matters related to education and training, it will act in consultation with the Federal Ministry of Education (FMoE). FMoH and its institutions will develop appropriate curricula for medical occupations on behalf of the FMoE. FMoH will also oversee the training of specialist personnel in the correct handling and the technical applications of biomedical equipment.

Among the project’s main implementation partners are Tegbare-id TVET College in Addis Ababa (AATPTC) and Nekemte Health Science College (NHSC). AATPTC was the first vocational school for biomedical technicians and key for working on biomedical training in Ethiopia. Nekemte Health Science College offers initial and further training courses for a range of healthcare occupations. The biomedical workshop attached to Nekemte Regional Referral Hospital will be used for practical training and maintenance services.

The project focuses on three intervention areas:

  1. Improve vocational training
    The project will support the training institutions AATPTC and NHSC in various forms, e.g. by courses, mentoring and work-based training Once they have acquired new skills and knowledge, teaching staff and trainers will be able to prepare their lessons more effectively and design hands-on teaching modules that give each trainee plenty of opportunities to practise using the equipment. These activities will be accompanied by research to analyse their impact and effectiveness. The findings will be used to inform the technical advice given to the FMoH and FMoE on the development of training guidelines.
  2. Set up a supraregional workshop
    With project support, the workshop at Nekemte Hospital will be able to maintain an increasing number of items of medical equipment on site and at other hospitals. This will boost the skills and experience of the biomedical technicians and therefore enable them to instruct trainees and other hospital staff more effectively in the handling of the equipment. The project will initiate and provide support for the introduction of a dynamic inventory management system. Therefore, the hospital management team will be able to plan and mobilise the necessary resources more effectively. More biomedical technicians and nurses will receive practically based initial and in-service training.
  3. Establish the requirements for a national medical equipment management system
    With technical advice from the project, a technical working group led by the Ministry of Health will define specific operating tasks, roles and functions for the various actors at each stage of the life cycle of biomedical equipment. This will make it possible to calculate costs and identify priorities. The project will support this process by commissioning cost studies and other research as required. In turn, these measures will facilitate the effective allocation of tasks between the private and public sectors. Above all, they will enable FMoH to define the duties of medical technicians and medical engineers more clearly. On this basis, the next steps will be to develop standardised competencies and curricula with a more practical focus and to target deployments of medical technicians and medical engineers more effectively.