Background:Up to 70% of medical devices in low-income and middle-income countries are partially or completely non-functional, impairing service provision and patient outcomes. In Sub-Saharan Africa, medical devices not designed for local conditions, lack of well-trained biomedical engineers and diverse donated equipment have led to poor maintenance and non-repair. The Maker Project's aim was to test the effectiveness of an innovative partnership ecosystem network, the 'Maker Hub', in reducing gaps in the supply of essential medical devices for maternal, newborn and child health. This paper describes the first phase of the project, the building of the Maker Hub. Methods:Key activities in setting up the Maker Hub-a collaborative partnership between the University of Nairobi (UoN) and the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), catalysed by Concern Worldwide Kenya-are described using a product development partnership approach. Using a health systems approach, a needs assessment identified a medical equipment shortlist. Design thinking with a capacity building component was used by the UoN (innovators, public health specialists, engineers) working closely and with KNH nurses, physicians and biomedical engineers to develop the prototypes. Results:To date, four medical device prototypes have been developed. Two have been evaluated by the National Bureau of Standards and one has undergone clinical testing. Conclusions:We have demonstrated an innovative partnership ecosystem that has developed medical devices that have undergone national standards evaluation and clinical testing, a first in Sub-Saharan Africa. Promoting a robust innovation ecosystem for medical equipment requires investment in building trust in the innovation ecosystem.
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Science and Technology Park and School of Public Health, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya.