This is the Nigerian man behind the new low-cost ventilator that doesn’t use electricity

Abu Mubarik July 31, 2021
Yusuf Bilesanmi. Photo credit: Loughborough University

As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc across the world and impacting the health system of both poor and rich nations, many experts continue to search for innovative ways to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.

A Nigerian engineer, Yusuf Bilesanmi, has led a team of innovators to develop a ventilator that does not use electricity. Other members of the team include Ricardo Nascimento, Dr. Yusuf Shittu, Gaurav Nanajkar, and Pawel Nycz.

The invention is regarded as one of the most significant breakthroughs in the fight against the pandemic. The ventilator, named ShiVent, has other unique features. It is oxygen-efficient, very easy to use, and is not expensive. It is also designed such that it allows non-specialized workers to treat patients with COVID-19.

Founder Yusuf, 37, is a Ph.D. student of Architecture Building and Civil Engineering. Team member Nascimento is a Ph.D. student of Design and Creative Arts and is responsible for prototyping and user experience expertise while Shittu of the Nuffield Hospital in Leicester provides medical expertise. Nanajkar and Nycz lead the engineering, design, simulation, and testing parts of the project. The two are Ph.D. students from the Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology (CREST).

According to Leicestershire Live, the invention has been tested at Loughborough’s National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM) and the Leicester Royal Infirmary Hospital. Also, the ventilator had a preliminary clinical functionality test at Glenfield Hospital.

The inventors plan to roll out the invention in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia after trials in Lagos and Pune as well as India. 

“ShiVent is designed for under-resourced areas where mechanical ventilators are scarce and expensive, with unreliable electricity supply and limited specialist knowledge,” said Yusuf.

He continued: “With a global surge in Covid-19 cases, many countries’ healthcare systems lack the capacity to tackle this new challenge. Nigeria has as few as 288 mechanical ventilators serving almost 200 million people. 

“The ShiVent is a simple, low-cost ventilatory alternative which does not depend on electricity and is widely replicable.”

According to Loughborough University, the “system works by connecting hospital patients to an existing oxygen source and blends air with the high-flow oxygen supply. The patient inhales oxygen to fill up the lungs and then exhales into a water column creating back-end pressure that keeps their airway open.” 

“It is based on the principles of bubble continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) – a non-invasive ventilator used for newborn babies developed by Dr. Yusuf Shittu, of the Nuffield Hospital in Leicester – a co-founder of the ShiVent system,” Loughborough University added in a press statement.

At the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation final event recently, Yusuf was voted the “One To Watch” by the audience during the event. He was one of the 12 innovators who pitched their innovations to a live audience. The Nigerian innovator also received a £5,000 ($6,000) prize.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: July 31, 2021


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