For almost two weeks now, scientists at Thies Polytechnic in Senegal have been working in a college that has been deserted because of the partial lockdown, to develop a cheap, locally made ventilator.
A team of six teaching researchers at Senegal’s Thies college came together after one of the project members, Professor Ousmane Seydi, read a scientific paper on how to make low-cost ventilators.
He said he did not have the knowledge to design it himself but with his colleagues who specialize in maths, computer engineering, and electronic engineering, they were able to come up with a working prototype in just 10 days
Working with three 3D printers to accelerate production, they make most of the parts themselves and have also designed their own algorithm which enables the ventilator to work autonomously and recognize when the patients can or can not breathe.
The device can also be connected to a mobile application to help doctors remotely control the device.
Professor Gueye, said compared to other ventilators, the cost of theirs is 40,000 FCFA ($66). If approved by the competent authorities, they could produce about 50 a week depending on the tools and resources they get to produce them.
Technicians, startups, inventors are working throughout the sub-Saharan region to create or adapt existing devices to assist patients with the coronavirus infection who have developed breathing problems as their lungs fill up with fluid.
In Nigeria, the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure launched a made-in Nigeria ventilator.
The coronavirus crisis has shone an unexpected light on Africa’s hidden talents and resourcefulness at producing home-grown alternatives that health experts hope will continue to be exploited long after the world and Africa has recovered from the pandemic.