Methods for medical device and equipment procurement and prioritization within low- and middle-income countries: findings of a systematic literature review

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Colleges, School and Institutes


Forty to 70 % of medical devices and equipment in low- and middle-income countries are broken, unused or unfit for purpose; this impairs service delivery to patients and results in lost resources. Undiscerning procurement processes are at the heart of this issue.

We conducted a systematic review of the literature to August 2013 with no time or language restrictions to identify what product selection or prioritization methods are recommended or used for medical device and equipment procurement planning within low- and middle-income countries. We explore the factors/evidence-base proposed for consideration within such methods and identify prioritization criteria.

We included 217 documents (corresponding to 250 texts) in the narrative synthesis. Of these 111 featured in the meta-summary. We identify experience and needs-based methods used to reach procurement decisions. Equipment costs (including maintenance) and health needs are the dominant issues considered. Extracted data suggest that procurement officials should prioritize devices with low- and middle-income country appropriate technical specifications – i.e. devices and equipment that can be used given available human resources, infrastructure and maintenance capacity.

Suboptimal device use is directly linked to incomplete costing and inadequate consideration of maintenance services and user training during procurement planning. Accurate estimation of life-cycle costing and careful consideration of device servicing are of crucial importance.


Original languageEnglish
Article number59
JournalGlobalization and Health
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2017


  • Medical devices, Prioritization, Resource allocation, Equipment, Health technology assessment