HEALTH | COVID-19
As one way of curbing the spread of Coronavirus, among health workers and the general public, Makerere University researchers have unveiled a face shield innovation that is expected to increase protection.
According to Dr Savina Asiimwe, the Principal Investigator, the innovative 3D printed face shield for frontline workers fighting Covid-19 can be used alongside the masks for better protection.
"We are at stage where we need to have local interventions basing on the way COVID-19 has disrupted the world. These face shields are very effective and will help reduce on the infections especially for our health workers," Asiimwe said.
She revealed that they have produced face shields for frontline health care workers who are at higher risk of contracting the virus.
"On top of wearing masks, this face shield needs to be adopted because it will reduce the chances of infection. It covers the whole face." Asiimwe said during the launch of the shields.
At least 500 shields made in this way are ready and some have already been donated to a few people.
The new shields are much quicker to make and are also believed to be reusable.
"They are not like those ones which have sponges. These ones have a plastic which can be removed and sanitized or disinfected for reuse,"
The guards have a full-face visor and adjustable headband and are made from sheet plastic using an automated laser-cutting machine.
"It is cost effective and we need government or private sector to support it so that there is mass production of these face shields," Asiimwe said.
She revealed that the initiatives are part of the University's response to the pandemic, which includes multi-billion research projects funded by government of Uganda through the Makerere University Research and Innovation Fund.
Prof Arthur Tugume, from the Department of Plant Science, Microbiology & Biotechnology, at Makerere University notes that with Uganda not in advanced stages of research about the Covid-19 virus vaccine, it is key to contribute to innovations that will prevent it.
"The best way to fight this virus is through prevention. That is why these innovations that are aimed at preventing infections are important and would love to see them adopted and scaled up," Tugume said.
Erias Muhoozi, a computer engineer aimed at designing and developing a cost-effective face shield.
Muhoozi reveals that the biodegradable face shield made using 3D printing, and the wide range of use of 3D printing technology is cost effective.
Harriet ADONG, the Director Communications & Knowledge Management, Makerere University School of Public Health-ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) Uganda commended the researchers for coming up with timely innovations.
"Using locally available materials is key because it helps us achieve much with the little, we have. We are happy to be able to transfer research into innovations that are important for our communities," Adong said.