US medical ‘trash’ saving lives abroad

Doctors will often prepare for surgical procedures by opening instrument and supply kits that contain up to 100 items.

Many of these items, such as scalpels, needles or sponges, go unused; they’re just not needed for that particular procedure. But because of government or hospital regulations in the United States, they are frequently thrown away, even when they are still wrapped.

“There are thousands of tons of medical supplies thrown away every day that are unused or clearly reusable,” said Dr. Bruce Charash, a cardiologist in New York.

Fortunately, some nonprofit organizations, including Charash’s Doc2Dock group, are finding ways to salvage these items and get them to people who need them desperately around the world.

Similar initiatives have run in the UK, with charities collecting unwanted surgical instruments for shipment to Africa. Presently, InterCare collects surplus medicines from GP surgeries, checks and sorts them, then donates these life-saving drugs to hospitals and other healthcare units in rural sub-Saharan Africa. They also collect and ship small medical and surgical equipment items, and dressings of all kind.

More information about InterCare here


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