The Harare Institute Of Technology (HIT) has come out with prototypes for locally made ventilators, but these have been prematurely celebrated and circulated as a breakthrough in Zimbabwe by some government officials.
In fact these ventilators still belong to the student lab and have not yet a place for the industry as they are nothing much but prototypes, in fact its a single prototype that is yet to be tested, standardized and more importantly certified for humans ailing for their lives.
The U.S. tried to build a new fleet of cheap ventilators, costing around USD $3 000 against the market price of usd$10 000, the mission failed. The US Government had funded millions to the project code named Project Aura but it all folded.
The project ultimately produced zero ventilators. That failure delayed the development of an affordable ventilator by at least half a decade.
This is the same ventilator that we are celebrating to have made! Infact we can make 40 of these per month!
What a mega-deal!!
When Jack Ma made his historic donation to earth he Tweeted:
Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation will donate additional urgent equipment including 800 ventilators, 300,000 sets of protective gowns and 300,000 face shields to hospitals in Europe.
Jack Ma one of the richest people on earth could only afford 800 to the world, 104 of these were going to 24 Latin American countries and less than 100 to 54 African countries.
This goes to show how pricey the ventilators are.
A ventilator is a machine that provides mechanical ventilation by moving breathable air into and out of the lungs, to deliver breaths to a patient who is physically unable to breathe, or breathing insufficiently, especially those suffering from lung disease like pneumonia and covid-19.
“Before a patient is placed on a ventilator, often anaesthetists – will perform a procedure called intubation, after a patient is sedated and given a muscle relaxant, a tube is placed through the mouth and into the windpipe.
The breathing tube is then attached to the ventilator and medical staff can adjust the rate that it pushes the air and oxygen into the lungs, and adjust the oxygen mix, ” said a medical practitioner.
This very special and sensitive machine must be intelligent, tested and certified under. ISO 13485:2016 for healthcare solutions with sensors and parameters for
- ECG, arrhythmia, ST, EEG, respiration,
- blood pressure (invasive & non-invasive),
- cardiac output , pulse oximetry (SpO2),
- transcutaneous blood gas, etCO2 (end-Tidal CO2),
- iCO2, RR(respiration rate), FiO2 (fractional inspired O2),
In a gesture of desperation only meant to keep up appearances at a time the whole world is focused on fighting the pandemic coronavirus, the government of Zimbabwe in their wisdom or lack of it announced that they have found a local solution to fight this virus.
The Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services permanent Secretary Nick Mangwana posted on his Twitter account:
When Prof Murwira said @HarareInstitute had developed a ventilator, soon to be deployed to help fight #Covid19Zim, even this believer had a flicker of doubt until I accompanied the Deputy Minister & Higher Education PS there this morning.- Potential to make 40/day of these. pic.twitter.com/NCUCHIzcT0— Nick Mangwana (@nickmangwana) March 29, 2020
At face value, it was the best news to ever happen in the history of our beloved country Zimbabwe since independence.
Remember, it is the same country that failed to provide a single ventilator when the now deceased Zororo Makamba needed one to save his life.
It is the same country with a battered and collapsed health system where doctors and nurses are on strike due to lack of protective clothing.
The same country without a fully equipped health facility to accommodate coronavirus patients.
I am convinced government sympathisers will view this as a negative energy from a third force.
It would be a gross injustice for me to ridicule young and promising researchers.
It’s true that the young scientists at the Harare Institute of Technology are locked up in the laboratories in a bid to come up with a local solution for ventilators.
These are very crucial to coronavirus patients.
What the government through Nick Mangwana celebrated was not an actual ventilator but rather a prototype.
For the benefit of non techies, a prototype is a first or preliminary version of a device or vehicle from which other forms are developed.
Celebrating a prototype ventilator is no different to celebrating a sleaky Mercedes Benz made from wires.
It’s just a sample.
Has this prototype been tested? At which hospital or clinic? Has it been certified by SAZ and the users for example doctors and nurses?
A HIT source which spoke on condition of anonymity said were surprised to see the news on social media.
“We are also surprised to see it already news on social media and i want to believe it was released by a politician Nick Mangwana for fame or personal interests.”
The source also added, “The ventilator i can confirm is there and finished but has not been tested i mean i am part of the team but i am at home. I think we should have been consulted first before they broke the news, what if it doesnt work?”