Undergraduate Seminar Series in Global Health

Department of Biomedical Engineering
Undergraduate Seminar Series in Global Health
Dr. Eric H. Ledet
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
4:00 p.m.
Academy Hall Auditorium

A Tale of Two Systems: Immersion in South African Health CareAdequate healthcare remains a significant challenge in developing nations. State-of-the-art technology and equipment are often unsustainable. Accessibility of facilities is often prohibitive due to limited infrastructure. Even when resources are adequate in medical facilities, home healthcare for chronic diseases can be substantially limited by living conditions.South Africa is both a developed and developing country. This dichotomy is reflected in its healthcare system. Effectively, there are two healthcare systems in South Africa: a private for-profit system analogous to many developed nations and a public system where all aspects of care are the responsibility of the state. The burden on the public system is immense, particularly in resource-challenged areas of the country. In spite of an overwhelming patient base, infrastructure challenges, and some of the highest prevalence of chronic diseases in the world such as HIV and TB, the system is effective. It is incredibly challenged, but it is effective.Sustainable biomedical technology can help the South African healthcare system and healthcare systems in other developing nations. In January 2012, Professor Eric Ledet and six Rensselaer undergraduate students traveled to the Western Cape region of South Africa. Hosted by Stellenbosch University, they were immersed for two weeks in the South African healthcare system – public and private, urban and rural. They experienced first-hand the strengths and challenges of the system. They have returned to RPI having identified numerous opportunities for biomedical innovation.In this seminar, Dr. Ledet will discuss some of the critical challenges of healthcare in developing nations, with special emphasis on the South African public system. He will discuss the role of sustainable biomedical technology in these unique environments.