UJ designs prototype for low-cost ventilators
A team of engineers and healthcare specialists from the University of Johannesburg have created a prototype for a low-cost ventilator in their fight against the deadly Covid-19.
The team is led by experienced engineers Dr Deon Sabatta and Dr Samson Masebinu.
“Ventilators are complex medical devices, and it is more intricate than simply squeezing a bag," Sabatta said. "Our product includes devices such as pressure sensors, flow sensors, and a number of control algorithms. It can, therefore, be set up to perform more advanced ventilation tasks such as pressure support ventilation (PSV) or synchronous intermittent mandatory ventilation (SIMV).
"This is a step up in ventilation support, by being able to assist patients further when they are tiring from being on continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) systems for extended periods of time,” he said.
Sabatta told SowetanLIVE that although the prototype has not yet been given the thumbs up from the necessary regulatory bodies, they are hoping to do this soon before the expected Covid-19 peak in July.
"The idea is to share the prototype and have other people come on to make it viable."
Sabatta said they want the prototype to eventually be scaled up and used not only in South Africa but the rest of the continent.
Masebinu said there is also hope for old and broken ventilators to be fixed.
“Through our repair and maintenance undertaking, this assignment will build on the principles of circularity and create employment opportunities since there are large amounts of equipment that can be repaired and calibrated for reuse, especially beyond our borders in South Africa,” said Masebinu.
“There is no sector more critical at this moment than healthcare, which is why we are proud to play a role in helping to produce and revamp these critical life-saving devices.”