Donating medical equipment: report

This report by the Chief Medical Officer reviews the standards required for medical equipment donations to low- and middle-income countries. It includes a 10 step guide to the donation journey and links to key guidance.


Safely donating medical equipment can save lives and give health professionals throughout low- and middle-income countries the tools they need to deliver quality care. However, the reality in most low-resource setting hospitals is a legacy of poorly considered donations left unused throughout the wards or rusting in 'equipment graveyards' in hospital grounds.

Donating medical equipment directly involves the donor in the patient's care and must therefore be done correctly. There should be no short cuts taken in the donation of medical equipment.

This working group was established to answer some core questions. Firstly, was there sufficient and up-to-date guidance available for making donations of medical equipment to anyone considering a donation? If not, should new guidance be created to support any donor to maximise the impact of their donation? Then, if there was sufficient guidance, was it easy to find and navigate? Again, if not, can anything be done to help guide donors through the process of making a safe donation.


The International Development principles of the Scottish Government also require the donation of such important equipment to meet the highest standards and have helped guide the work of this review. The principles are:

1. Partner country led development

2. Equality

3. Amplify global south voices

4. Inclusion and diversity

5. Collaboration and partnerships

6. Innovative, adapting and sustainable

7. Embrace technology

8. Accountable, transparent and safe.

Scope and perceived need for this review

As the review got underway, the working group considered the conditions likely arising to lead to a donation and what key questions the potential donor should be asking. Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that a large amount of medical equipment donations do not currently meet the existing criteria. Indeed, it is estimated that less than 30% of all donated medical equipment is put into service in the recipient institution.

A need to help potential donors to fully understand the scale of the task they are engaging in was recognised. The following infographic helps identify what the donor likely expects to be needed and what is actually needed.

Image 1. Reproduced from the THET Making it Work guidelines.

Shows the total cost of making a medical donations as an iceberg - a long list of costs are unseen below the water.

Service Contracts
Spare parts
Test equipment

Only one cost (Aquisition) is above the water.

The list shown in this image does not include consideration of end-of-life for the donation and safe, affordable disposal, vital for climate sustainability.



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