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Friday,July 03,2020 23:03 PM

Kiira Motors unveil low cost medical ventilator

By Ruth Nasejje

Added 11th June 2020 02:28 PM

The initiative to manufacture ventilator came from Vincent A. Sembatya, the Director for Quality Assurance at Makerere University.

The initiative to manufacture ventilator came from Vincent A. Sembatya, the Director for Quality Assurance at Makerere University.

Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC) in conjunction with Makerere University School of Public Health have unveiled a low cost medical ventilator.

According to the Makerere University Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of finance and administration, Prof. William Bazeyo, the ventilator, named bulamu, which means life in the local dialect, is supposed to breathe life into ailing patients. It was manufactured using pipes, plumbing equipment, metals, which were locally sourced and developed by researchers at Makerere University.

The production started in April and concluded in May.

Pauline Korukundo the vehicle Integration Manager at KMC demonstrates to the Minister of Health how the how the medical ventilator works.
Pauline Korukundo the vehicle Integration Manager at KMC demonstrates to the Minister of Health how the how the medical ventilator works.

The ventilator costs slightly lower than $4,000, which is more than six times less than the cost of a ventilator at the international market. It will support the management of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome caused by the coronavirus.

The initiative to manufacture ventilator came from Vincent A. Sembatya, the Director for Quality Assurance at Makerere University.

"At the peak of the Coronavirus pandemic, many people started hiding. People like Bill Gates even warned that African countries will be most hard hit because of poor facilities in the health care system. So we had discussions with collaborators abroad who assured us that they had found a way of making ventilators using local material. They challenged us to look around and see how we can manipulate, modify equipment and come up with this simple ventilator", Ssembatya said.

 "This ventilator has been the second phase, the first phase was proof of concept, which we made in two weeks. After receiving feedback and realizing the wider deployment in hospitals, we started on phase two which is the upgraded design of phase one and completely different. It took us around two months and two more ventilators will soon be completed, Richard Wadanda the director of product development at KMC added.

The locally made medical ventilator dubbed BULAMU. Photo by Francis Emorut
The locally made medical ventilator dubbed BULAMU. Photo by Francis Emorut

During the launch of the ventilator, the Health Minister, Dr. Ruth Aceng, said the production of the ventilator is timely since Uganda is hosting patients at Namboole Stadium as the COVID-19 case figures keep rising.

"If many of you have been following closely what is happening in other countries, you see that not all patients are managed in a hospital setting. About 80% of COVID-19 cases are mild and moderate, while 20% progress to severe. If our set up was in such a way that we had homes that are self-contained, we would actually manage patients at home. It is better to remove patients from communities to prevent infections. So, Namboole will accommodate mild patients,'' Aceng clarified.

Before the ventilators are distributed to hospitals, the team will test them on animals. The testing will be led by a team from the college of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity at Makerere University to assess the level of tissue perfusion with oxygen. Thereafter, clinical trials on human beings led by Anaesthesiologists and Epidemiologists from the college of Health Sciences, Makerere will be done before the ventilators are finally used by patients.

Kiira Motors unveil low cost medical ventilator

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