Gifts In Kind items shipped by CBM UK to the Nkhoma Eye Hospital in Malawi
Cambridge-based disability charity, CBM, has joined forces with a medical equipment recycling organisation to send vital supplies overseas.
The charity is working with Aid to Hospitals Worldwide (A2HW) which refurbishes redundant NHS equipment.
CBM's chief executive, Dr Bill McAllister, said: "Everyone is a winner with this collaboration.
"A2HW procures the equipment in the UK, we send it out and our partner organisations receive it overseas."
A2HW is based in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk.
From its headquarters and warehouse it sources NHS hospital equipment and supplies that are no longer being used, refurbishes and services them, before offering them free of charge to charitable organisations.
The company is recognised by the government's Recycling for Re-use scheme, and as such is qualified to recycle or safely dispose of anything unsuitable for sending overseas.
'Short of supplies'
Dr Bill McAllister spoke to BBC Cambridgeshire ahead of the United Nations' International Day of Persons with Disabilities, held on 3 December 2010.
A shipment of items donated as Gifts In Kind by CMB arrives in Malawi
He said A2HW's service was invaluable to CBM.
"As you can imagine, we're always short of supplies and buying new equipment on the world market is very expensive," he explained.
"Meanwhile, here in the UK there's a fair amount of medical equipment being dumped or recycled because it's simply superfluous to requirement.
"Organisations like ours are crying out for equipment like this."
A2HW donates the equipment for free, but CBM has to pay for the shipping costs.
"Occasionally there are import costs but we try to avoid that as much as possible, because in effect this is a gift to the people overseas from the people of the UK," Dr McAllister said.
Nkhoma Eye Hospital
CBM sends the supplies to its partner organisations in Africa.
Most recently, it shipped a 20ft container of medical equipment to the Nkhoma Eye Hospital in Malawi.
The delivery included beds, dressings and consumables, including new bandages and plasters, together with a Zeiss operating microscope.
The charity supports the work of the hospital's doctors who specialise in cataract surgery.
Stancellous Kumwenda is the administrative officer at Nkhoma Eye Hospital.
He said: "The donation will go a long way to alleviate the critical shortage of medical equipment that we have been experiencing in the past and we promise to use them for their intended purpose."
Dr Bill McAllister explained that a prerequisite of receiving the equipment was that its overseas partner organisations had to prove they were qualified to install, use and maintain whatever was sent to them.
To assist with this, A2HW ensures that not only is the equipment in good working order, but that it is sent out with spare parts, instruction manuals and even installation tools.