Medical devices

Donation of medical equipment

Medical equipment has become a fundamental part of modern healthcare delivery, enabling screening, prevention, diagnostics, treatment and palliative care. Still a huge mismatch exists between the number of technologies produced by the global healthcare innovation community and the user in low-resource settings. Donations of medical equipment could bridge some of these gaps, allowing for some of the surplus from high resource settings to be passed to low resource settings. However, if poorly executed, donations could turn into a burden for the recipient, wasting an enormous amount of money, human resources and time, with long term implications of crippled healthcare systems and amassing environmental burden.

The following main barriers to effective donation of medical equipment have been identified:

  • Lack of genuine partnership between donor and recipient
  • Insufficient appreciation for the challenges of the recipient’s context
  • Limited standardised inventory of medical equipment in resource constrained settings to identify needs
  • Insufficient support for the long term integration of new equipment
  • Insufficient connectivity between activities undertaken by various organisations working on donations
  • Lack accountability - no tracking and monitoring of donations and no existing quantification framework for impact of donations
  • Insufficient capacity and capacity building programs for recipients
  • Guidelines


To formalise the process of donations and facilitate best practice, the WHO has developed a set of guidelines on appropriate donations of medical devices. These guidelines are followed by various countries worldwide; additionally, some countries have their own national donation policies, as visualised by the map above.

Guidelines have also been produced by big organisations working in the field of donations of medical equipment (e.g. HUMATEM, PQMD and THET).

Donation Framework

This conceptual framework was developed to capture aspects essential to the successful process of donation of medical equipment. It should be highlighted that the assessment of suitability, within this framework, is to be conducted in conjunction with the principles described in the WHO guidelines on donations of medical equipment. Additionally, the aspect of communication between donor and recipient is pivotal and has been visualized through the bidirectional arrows.

Organizations Involved in Donation of Medical Devices

There are several international organizations working on donations of medical equipment. Together with the WHO, they help to give guidance for countries in donations.

Survey on Donations of Medical Equipment

The Medical Devices Group at the World Health Organisation would like to invite you to participate in our effort to capture evidence on good and inappropriate practice in the donations of medical equipment. Through this initiative, we hope to facilitate a global discussion on how to make donations of medical equipment most beneficial to the recipient.

While anecdotal evidence strongly suggests a change is needed in the current medical device donation paradigm, comprehensive data on medical device donations is scarce, outdated, misquoted or misrepresented. Therefore, in order to improve our understanding on the issue we are gathering data through a survey, whose findings will be published in a report. If you have ever received donated devices, please take some time to respond to our survey, it will only take you 5 to 10 minutes.

The following credentials are required to complete the survey:

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The survey is available in the following languages:

Last update:

22 February 2016 09:20 CET

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