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COVID-19: Rwanda to Test Locally Made Ventilator

by Edmund Kagire
6:04 pm

Made in Rwanda by the IPRC students

Rwanda is testing a locally made ventilator to use in the treatment of New Coronavirus patients which was developed by a team of engineers at the Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centre (IPRC) in what could be a major breakthrough in making of the much needed device in the treatment of COVID-19.

 Though the ventilator, which helps COVID-19 patients in critical condition to breathe well when their lungs are struggling, is yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Authority (FDA), experts have hailed the innovation by the team at the Kigali Campus of the polytechnic.

 The ventilator which has been hailed by Prof. Stephen Rulisa, a Professor of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, at the University of Rwanda (UR) School of Medicine and Pharmacy, as timely innovation in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic. 

“With response to #Covid-19, Rwandan biomedical engineers from IPRC Kigali are tirelessly making made in Rwanda Ventilator. Sooner the final product will be released. Thanks to the dedicated team and Dr.  Rulisa and Prof. Polain for advice and encouragement,” IPRC Kigali said on Twitter. 

Prof. Rulisa, who is the Head of Research Department at the University Teaching Hospital says the respirator is working as good as imported ones. 

“I am really impressed by Rwandan engineers of IPRC Kigali, making Ventilators! As good as imported ones. Keep it up,” Prof. Rulisa said commending everyone involved in the process. 

Eng. Diogène Mulindahabi, the Principal of IPRC Kigali said there a number of health professionals who are involved in the process, pointing out that IPRC Kigali is working to finalise the first “Made in Rwanda” ventilator.

 With the shortage of ventilators worldwide, Rwandan engineers are hoping to be manufacturing one respirator every 8 days. The country currently has slightly over 40 ventilators though only one patient out of 147 cases only one patient has been placed on oxygen therapy support.

 The Director General of Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana told KT Press that they have seen the ventilator and asked medical teams to test before a decision to manufacture more is considered. 

However the Director General of the Food and Drug Authority Dr. Charles Karangwa told KT Press that they are yet to approved the locally made device.

 “We have not received an application so far asking as to carry out tests on the device. We have not seen it yet. We will wait for the manufacturers to approach us before we make any decision,” Dr Karangwa told KT Press.

 FDA has last week approved different companies to manufacture personal protective equipment, particularly protective masks following a directive by the Ministry of Health for all people to wear protective masks especially in public places and at home. 

As global cases of COVID-19 topped 2,430,728 and 166,271 death by press time, the demand for ventilators globally remains at all-time high as the shortage of the life-saving equipment continues to affect countries.

 Some African and Latin American countries have been caught flat-footed with a small number of ventilators with South Sudan, having just four ventilators and 24 ICU beds for a population of 12 million people, according to data from the International Rescue Committee (IRC).

 According to CNN, that means there is one ventilator for every three million people while Burkina Faso has 11 ventilators, Sierra Leone 13, and Central African Republic 3, while Venezuela has 84 ICU beds for a population of 32 million, and 90% of hospitals face shortages of medicine and critical supplies.

 Both USA and UK are having a biting shortage of ventilators, with leaders asking industries to divert into manufacturing the respirators to address the shortage. The UK says it urgently needs about 18, 000 ventilators as the available ones are overwhelmed.

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