4 October 2022
The Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (MRCG at LSHTM) in collaboration with Make3D Company Limited and Prusa Research, with support from the Czech Development Agency concluded a two-day international training workshop on 3D Printing In Health.
The workshop, held from the 27th to 28th September 2022, at the Unit’s campus in Fajara, brought together 50 biomedical engineers, medical doctors, and PhD students from across various institutions including the MRCG at LSHTM, Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH), Ndemban Clinic, Africmed and Students Association of Public and Environmental Health and the Czech Republic.
The workshop, led by Christopher Vandi, created a platform for the sharing of experiences in 3D printing in the medical sector between Czech and Gambian stakeholders, including hospitals, research institutions, ministries, regulatory authorities, students, experts, industry representatives, NGOs, and other professionals with the aim of bringing new opportunities to scale up the impact of 3D printed innovations.
Headed by Christopher Vandi, the Biomedical Engineering Department is responsible for the in-house maintenance and management of medical technology within our facilities and also provides support to the health sector of the Gambia Government.
The MRCG at LSHTM was the first institution in The Gambia to embrace 3D printed innovations and solutions to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic through 3D printing shields and oxygen delivery systems.
Davis Nwakanma, Chief Operating Officer at the MRCG at LSHTM said: “3D printing is not a new technology, but it has become very important in the last few years, especially during COVID-19. Given the disruption of the supply chain, 3D printing can be used as leverage to overcome that hurdle.
“Maintaining biomedical equipment and sourcing spares is a key challenge in medical research but as a Unit, we have a very strong Biomedical Engineering Department, which maintains the biomedical engineering equipment we have. We will also leverage 3D printing to reduce carbon emission and improve the environmental sustainability of our operations.”
Expressing gratitude for the meaningful collaboration with the MRCG at LSHTM, Fatou Juka Darboe, the Director of Make3D said: “The collaboration with MRCG at LSHTM started in March 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. We were hosted at the Biomedical Engineering Laboratory for nine months and during this period, we produced PPE, and developed 3D printed respiratory equipment for emergency oxygen delivery and laboratory equipment using 3D printing technology. MRCG at LSHTM Championed 3D printing in healthcare in The Gambia and Make3D built MRCG at LSHTM’s capacity by assisting in the procurement of 3D printers and training of staff for the sustainability of 3D printing technology at the Unit.”
she added: “All of these are the reason when we talk about 3D printing in health in The Gambia, MRCG at LSHTM is the first partner that comes to mind and as we continue to explore and find more ways of using 3D printing to provide solutions to Gambian problems, we continue to work with MRCG at LSHTM in doing this.”
Jakub Kmosek, Content Specialist at Prusa Research expressed his appreciation of the Unit’s facilities saying: “MRCG at LSHTM was the first healthcare facility not only in The Gambia but in the whole of Africa to use original Prusa printers to produce medical devices. Today, 3D printing is integral to the Biomedical Engineering Department.”
The recently held workshop, according to Kmosek, is a testament to MRCG at LSHTM’s leadership in 3D printing, while demonstrating further ways in which this technology can be used to address the many challenges associated with healthcare delivery.
“Based on our experience, we can then say that MRCG’s 3D printing capabilities can stand in comparison with leading facilities in the Czech Republic, Europe and other countries.”
Aliyu Nuhu Ahmed, a PhD student at the MRCG at LSHTM cited the significance of the convergence saying: “The workshop was an opportunity for the REWIND project team to delve deep into 3D printing in health and environmental sustainability, its various applications, and prospects. It was a great platform for us to cross-fertilise ideas with stakeholders to broaden the prospects and impact of our overarching aim, to reduce carbon emissions in the Unit.
“As an attendee, it was a great opportunity to learn, participate and network with experts on previous successful projects and initiatives, and to collectively brainstorm on innovative applications in the future moving forward.”
Make3D Company Limited and MRC Unit The Gambia at LSHTM have worked closely to develop innovative products, especially during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. 3D products developed under this collaborative framework are still in use at the Unit and government hospitals and laboratories.