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Locally made ventilator enters clinical trial stage

Bulamu ventilator developed by Kiira Motors is in advanced trial stages. PHOTO via @KiiraMotors

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda’s first locally made ventilator is heading to the clinical trial stage, according to the developers of the equipment.

The ventilator called, ‘Bulamu’ is the first of its kind to be produced within the country to help in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19). A ventilator normally helps to deal with Acute Respiratory Failure for COVID-19 patients.

Animal testing of the ventilator is scheduled to start next week after which the ventilator will have to undergo a series of endurance and stress tests before approval can be sought for randomized human trials from the National Drug Authority and the Uganda National Council of Science and Technology.

Thatcher Mpanga, the senior product designer at Kiira motors says that they are producing the ventilators to prepare for the worst if cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) increase later on.

Development of the low cost ventilator begun in April, 2020. It is being developed by Kiira Motors and Makerere University through their Resilient Africa Network located at the Makerere School of Public Health.

The Bulamu ventilator comes with a back up system in case of power failure and can be connected to solar power in case of facilities that are off the national power grid.

Mpanga says that the ventilator will cost on average 11 million shillings compared to open market price of 57 million.

While inspecting the prototype yesterday at Makerere University, the Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng says that such innovations are important to the country and will help the fight against COVID-19.

“Right now, ordering for ventilators is hard because they are being fought for. Locally producing such equipment helps our preparedness,” said Dr Aceng.

According to health experts, at least five percent of the persons that have moderate to severe forms of the disease end up in need of a ventilator because they cannot breathe since their lungs are immersed in fluid.

As of today, Uganda has reported 697 confirmed cases with COVID-19. 559 patients are still receiving treatment in health facilities. All Uganda’s cases have been mild. However, with an increase in cases, the country is preparing for the worst.

While the ventilator might be a a life saving solution, studies carried out in China and the US have shown that ventilators might lead to an increased mortality rate of COVID-19 patients. The studies show that as many as 70 percent of all the persons put on ventilators succumbed to the disease.

Manufactures of the ventilator are now targeting to have it in hospitals working by early July, 2020 if all goes well. Once the prototype gets approval, the manufacturers of the ventilator hope to be able to manufacture over 40 ventilators before the year comes to an end.



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