A group of 16 students from Kenyatta University have developed a ventilator prototype stepping up the war on COVID-19.
The ventilator which was developed through a collaboration of students from the engineering, nursing, medicine and pharmacy schools was presented in a live demo before the Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina and Kenyatta University vice-chancellor Prof Paul Wainaina at the institution innovation centre on Saturday 11th April.
According to the team which was under the guidance of the engineering school dean Dr Shadrack Mambo and Prof Nicholas Gikonyo, chairman of the Chandaria Business Innovation and Incubation Centre, where the prototype was developed, the ventilators can be produced at US$5000 using locally sourced materials and the university has the capacity to produce 50 units per week.
This development comes as Kenya recorded two more COVID-19 cases, bringing the number to 191.
Ventilators are right at the centre for the treatment of the coronavirus as they are used to pump oxygen into the lungs of patients with complications. According to a study by Imperial College London, about 30 per cent of people hospitalized with COVID-19 are likely to require the use of a ventilator. Kenya like most African countries has an underfunded and poorly equipped healthcare system with insufficient ventilators to cater to the rising coronavirus cases in the country.
According to Kenya’s Health CS, the government has received 250 of these machines; still not enough to cater for both COVID-19 patients and non-COVID-19 patients.
Moreover, the major manufacturers of ventilators like Drägerwerk AG from Germany have cancelled export orders to carter for orders by the German government deepening the crisis for countries like Kenya.
The university is hoping to play a bigger role in meeting the urgent needs of having enough ventilators in hospitals. It has filed for a patent with the Kenya Industrial Property Institute while awaiting certification and approval from the government before they begin the mass production of the ventilators.