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Saturday,December 05,2020 02:15 AM

COVID-19: Makerere invents automated hand washing kit

By Agnes Nantambi

Added 12th August 2020 05:10 PM

The project is funded by the Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Science, Research and Innovation Fund to Makerere University.

COVID-19: Makerere invents automated hand washing kit

The Assistant Commissioner, Innovations and Intellectual Property Management from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, Patrick Mugisha, washes hands from the invented kit as others look on. Photos by Agnes Nantabi

The project is funded by the Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Science, Research and Innovation Fund to Makerere University.

EDUCATION|HEALTH|INVENTION

KAMPALA - Makerere University through the Research and Innovation Fund (Mak-RIF), has innovated an automated hand washing kit for public shared spaces.

The scientific kit is aimed at limiting contact with surfaces while ensuring thorough hand hygiene in a bid to fight the spread Covid-19 pandemic.

It is innovated under the University's project titled "Development of a Green Low Cost Touch less Hand wash Technology (TW-20 Kit) for public Shared Spaces"

The project is funded by the Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Science, Research and Innovation Fund to Makerere University.

According to Dr. Joshua Wanyama, the Principal Investigator (PI), from the Department of Agricultural and Bio systems engineering in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the announcement of the first COVID-19 case in Uganda, prompted a private firm owned by Makerere Alumni to develop and test the first prototype of the TW-20 Kit to automate hand washing.

"After developing the first prototype, the Kit was tried in Kasubi-Kawaala suburbs and Kawaala Health Centre IV for a month to obtain field based preliminary results for proof-of-concept," he said.

He clarified that during the trial, the results were convincing but there was a need to improve the design of the Kit which required a private firm, Badaye, to partner with Makerere University to move the project further.

Dr.Wanyama, speaking to the press during the launch of the automated hand washing kit.

Wanyama said that with support from Mak-RIF, the design was improved and 15 Kits were fabricated and installed at different public shared spaces within the Kampala Metropolitan area.

"We have recorded over 40,000 hand washers from the Kits installed in just one week of installation", Dr. Wanyama stated.

He detailed that the kits will be benefiting 15 areas which include Makerere University and its Hospital, Mulago, Kawempe and Kiruddu referral Hospitals, Kawaala and Mukono Health Centre IVs plus Entebbe Grade B Hospital.

Included are Luweero, Kalerwe, Nansana-Masitoowa, Nakasero, Nakawa and Mbuya markets.

He observed that with the current progress on hand washing and hygiene adherence, there is a need to increase the number of kits installed at different points.

"We need a hand from development partners so that Mak-RIF expands its collective impact in the COVID 19 fight", he entreated.

The Assistant Commissioner, Innovations and Intellectual Property Management from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, Patrick Mugisha, said his ministry was more set to coordinate the research innovation ecosystem through engaging different players including academia.

He observed that the country has had many questions put forward to the academia for doing a lot of research without economic tangible output of their research.

Mugisha applauded Mak -RIF for lobbying the money and making his office functional.

Ateam from Badaye offloading the automated handwashing kit at Makerere University.

He advised stake holders to embrace the value of Intellectual Property saying, incentives to enhance inventing, research, have startups and also link the university to industrial development.

Mak-RIF Engagement Officer, Carol Kamugira, said innovation was part of getting the research output off the shelves into the society.

"Makerere asked Government for help to get the research output off the shelves into society and it responded by supporting high impact research and innovations in health agriculture, engineering among others," She said.

She explained that the University got a big funding of shs30b per year, for the next three years.

Prior, Julius Mugaga, of Badaye Technologies said the technology is built with solar, a battery and can also be plugged in electricity.

"This technology dispenses soap, gives you time of about 10 seconds to rub before it can give you rinsing water. Every time the system gets used, it can be monitored under the two parameters of performance in terms of operations and how many people are using it at a time," said Mugaga.

He added that the kit has an audio guide which gives instructions in English and Luganda, adding that it can be customized according to needs of the organization.

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