Researchers at the College of Engineering of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) are expecting to see the full operationalization of an automated ventilator they have designed in a month's time.
Officials from the Ghana Health Service and the Ghana Standards Authority who have inspected the prototype say it is an intervention that can significantly contribute to improving healthcare delivery in the wake of the outbreak of COVID-19 in Ghana.
According to authorities at the University, this prototype is the result of a collaborative project which started early 2017, as a joint effort between the Computer Engineering Department of KNUST and the Michigan Technological University of the United States.
It had an objective of improving health care delivery for patients with breathing deficiencies and disorders.
The project was to be designed by implementing low-cost and effective ventilators.
Michigan Technological University developed a prototype ventilator which they named IBV Ventilator, and later in 2017, KNUST project students from the Biomedical Engineering Department succeeded in coming out with another prototype; the KNUST Ventilator.
According to the leader of the team, Prof Kwame Osei Boateng, lack of funding stalled further development of the device.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic where the use of ventilators is vital for those in critical condition, the University says a team was tasked to work on further developing the project to ensure its usage to save more lives.
The team says it has so far spent twenty thousand Ghana cedis on the prototype.
They however believe that when it is certified and given the necessary financial support, a lot more can be produced at affordable prices.
According to the Provost of College of Engineering, Prof. Mark Adom Asamoah, their aim is to ensure that every district or community hospital in the country has one of the ventilators to complement the national effort in solving basic health problems.
“There are a lot of people who are struggling to breathe out of ailments. However, the cost of commercial ventilators is very high and very few people can afford them. So this effort is to find a way of producing these ventilators at a very low cost. Our aim is to make sure that every district or community hospital would have one of such ventilators to help the national effort in trying to solve basic health problems.”
Prof Mark Adom Asamoah says they are expecting to see the full operationalization of the KNUST ventilator in a month's time.
The inventors have extended an invitation to the Ghana Health Service and the Ministry of Health in developing the prototype further.
The University believes their cooperation will help build on the invention to meet industrial standards and facilitate a seamless process of conducting a clinical trial of the final product.
The Ashanti Regional Clinical Engineer at the Ghana Health Service, Ing. Eric Sackey, who has inspected the project, says it couldn't have come at any better time. He complained about the limited number of ventilators in the country, adding that the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital is the only facility in the Ashanti Region that has a ventilator.
“In the Ashanti region, it is only Komfo Anokye that we have. So lets assume that we have these acute situations and we need to bring ten patients on board to Komfo Anokye, it would be difficult. So the Ashanti regional director of the Ghana health service's heart gladdens to hear this good news that we want to come out with a local one”.
Officials at the Ghana Standards Authority have started inspecting the project and have been making inputs on how it could be further developed to ensure it is fit for purpose.
“With the Ghana standards authority, we coming on board is to ensure that the product would be fit for purpose then we will in time certify it when it is going into mass production. This is the prototype and there are things that they have to do to optimize it”.