BY Mohammed Awal, 10:00am June 23, 2020,

Ugandan innovators unveil solar-powered and low-cost ventilators to fight coronavirus

Photo credit: Daily Monitor

Innovators in Uganda have manufactured ventilators aimed at helping the country’s coronavirus fight. The innovation was the product of the partnership between experts at Makerere University and a local automobile company, Kiira Motors Corporation.

Christened as ‘Bulamu Ventilator’, the components of the gadgets were sourced locally, local media Daily Monitor reports and one is expected to sell at $3,000 (Shs11m). The imported ones go for $25,000 (Shs93m). 

“The scientists at Makerere University veterinary school are developing a protocol for trial on animals which will begin next month. After that, clinical trial on humans will be done,” Allan Muhumuza, the business development manager at KMC said.

Muhumuza told The Daily Monitor that the ventilators had passed engineering tests that experts at Makerere University’s medical school were also carrying out endurance and compliance tests of the products.

A ventilator is a piece of medical equipment that aids in artificial respiration when a patient’s lung fails to do it naturally as in the case of people affected with the coronavirus.

According to estimates, about 6% of persons who have contracted coronavirus will require intensive care and about 1 in 4 of them may need a ventilator to help them breathe, WebMD reported as the picture is changing quickly with infection rate surging rapidly around the globe.

Uganda has so far recorded 774 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus with 631 recoveries and zero deaths.

The Bulamu Ventilator comes with an enclosed operating system in a metallic casing with tubes and touch screen interface to adjust its settings. The gadget also comes with an electrical and mechanical architecture, which utilizes motors, air pressure transducers, and airflow transducers to function, local media reports. Again it has inhalation and exhalation control valves, air compression, and the inbuilt monitoring systems.

“The design has been majorly done to make it a touch screen to ensure it doesn’t become a disease vector. We worked with Victoria Engineering Ltd for the fabrication and casing,” Paul Musasizi, the central executive officer of KMC said.

The operating system is said to be designed by a young scientist who owns a startup firm called Billy Applied Electronics and ICT Centre in Kampala while engineers at KMC and Makerere University did the mechanical engineering and electronic designs and architectural styling.

“The battery can work for more than two hours. We also have a solar charge controller so you can use solar or main electrical supply depending on where you are, to charge the battery,” Pauline Korukundo, who is one of the experts in Bulamu Ventilator development said. “We have a ‘test lung’ where the machine is tested first before being connected to the patient to ensure everything is working perfectly.”

Korukundo added that the parameter for the ventilation can be set depending on the patient before starting the ventilation.

Ugandan health minister, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, said the country will need ventilators in hospital setups to cater for 20 percent of patients who progress to severe conditions. 

The Ugandan innovations followed a similar one by a Nigerian student, Usman Dalhatu, a level 200 mechanical engineering student at the Ahmadu Bello University in Northern Nigeria.

In partnership with other Nigerian innovators, Dalhatu, 20, built a local ventilator, which he transformed into a portable exceptional ultra-modern E-vent automatic ventilator. Dalhatu named the equipment RESPIRE-19.

Last Edited by:Kent Mensah Updated: June 23, 2020


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