Damian Masanja began working with Touch Foundation’s Healthcare Technology Management (HTM) program in 2018, partnering with engineers at our long-time partner hospital, Bugando Medical Centre (BMC) to promote biomedical excellence. BMC just hired Damian as a full-time Technical Performance Manager to continue working with BMC technicians to ensure that Lake Zone equipment is always fully functional. We sat down with Damian to talk about the HTM program, his role, and his exciting vision about the future of biomedical engineering.
Damian Masanja Baluhya has spent almost two years working closely with Touch and the engineers at BMC to implement core processes and build capacity in their engineering department. In August, Damian stepped into a new role with the HTM program, employed directly by BMC, and will continue his groundbreaking work with engineers by conducting a performance assessment over the next 18 months. This is a big deal; as Damian says, “engineering is pivotal to all hospital successes.” Improving engineering outcomes has a direct impact on patient care. For example, when engineers in the Department recently reduced the average downtime [due to malfunction] of hospital equipment by 11 days, it meant that more equipment is now readily available to perform the procedures patients need.
Much of this improvement is due to Damian and the engineers’ work to set clear goals, problem solve, and ensure efficient routines in the office. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which the department now employs to track things like completed jobs and operating room activity, play a huge role in the team establishing goals and following through on them.
A KPI board in the engineering department.
When something doesn’t go as expected, Damian is quick to problem solve with the engineers: “now we want to interrogate every answer to a question: why? why? Until you have 5 ‘why’s.’” Asking “why” in this way creates space for improvement and positive change.
This desire for interrogation and learning makes sense given that Damian is driven by his love of teaching. “Teaching,” he says, “has always been a passion, whether it’s in a classroom or it is building capability.” Building capacity, both with skills, like computer literacy, or with practice, like implementing routines, is critical to ensuring sustainability, which is one of Damian’s main goals for the program. In his new role at BMC, Damian will continue mentoring members of the department and coordinate future technical trainings.
Damian with some members of the engineering team.
For a program like this to be sustainable, there must be ownership from the people impacted by the program (e.g. the engineering team at BMC). Thus, when Damian introduces new practices and systems, he does it in close partnership with his team, working to ensure buy-in so that everyone understands, owns, and agrees with the changes. “I am happy that I have been enjoying the very good relationships with most of the engineering staff,” Damian says. He’ll spend time in his position at BMC evaluating adherence to processes and best practices, continuing to raise the department’s performance and service quality. With all the successes that the department has seen over the past two years, Damian is setting high goals for the HTM program. “Hopefully,” he says, “this department and Bugando Hospital can become a real center of excellence in Tanzania and East Africa.”