KNUST demonstrates operation of locally-made ventilator

The College of Engineering (CoE), Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), has held a demonstration exercise to explain the working operation of Ghana’s first home-made prototype ventilator.

The medical equipment, which is in the advanced stages of development, is a collaborative work between the College’s Computer Engineering Department and Michigan Technological University.

“The purpose of the demonstration exercise is to outdoor to stakeholders what the University is doing from its own perspective to augment access to quality healthcare delivery.

We think this home-made ventilator could be of utmost importance to patients with breathing deficiencies and disorders if the project is taken up for further development, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic,” Professor Mark Adom-Asamoah, Provost of the College, noted.

In an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), Kumasi, on the sideline of the programme, which brought on board the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), the Provost said less expensive materials and technology were used in building the portable ventilator.

The project design focused on the exterior casing and pneumatics (gas flow and tubing), electronic circuit design, the device operating algorithm construction and microcontroller programming.

The use of external signals from the muscle of the conscious patient as feedback signal to trigger the ventilator into operation when the need arises and stop it when no longer needed had also been considered to fine-tune the equipment.

Prof. Adom-Asamoah hinted that the collaborative work commenced three years ago, saying the intention was to use the ingenuity of student engineers and faculty members to address the inadequacy of ventilators.

According to the Ghana Health Service, the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), the nation’s second-largest health referral facility, remains the only hospital in the Ashanti Region which could boast of few ventilators.

Mr Eric Sackey Mensah, in-charge of the Regional Clinical Engineering Unit, GHS, said the authorities were happy that the CoE responded to the needs of the nation by coming out with the innovative automated home-made Ventilator.

He said they would be working with the University to complete the project, and see how best the medical equipment could be produced on a larger scale in order to serve the interest of health facilities in the country.

The GNA gathered that a standard commercial Ventilator could cost about GH¢300, 000 on the market.

Prof. Kwame Osei Boateng, who is heading the KNUST side on the project, said the CoE estimated that the cost of the finished ‘KNUST Ventilator’ would go for about GH¢30,000 on the market.

Consequently, he stressed the need for the project to be taken seriously as they were critical to resuscitating patients with breathing difficulties given its relatively low cost.

Dr Samuel Frimpong, Regional Director of the GSA, assured that his outfit would collaborate with the College to calibrate the equipment to ensure its efficient use.

Source: GNA

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