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16 Kenyatta University students develop coronavirus ventilators

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KU Ventilators: A group of 16 students from Kenyatta University have developed a ventilator as the country steps up efforts to combat coronavirus. Ventilators are key in responding to Covid-19. Shortages in places such as Italy and the United States have had disastrous impacts and, in some cases, have forced doctors to decide which patients in swamped ICUs will get access to the life-saving equipment.

A mechanical ventilator is a machine that’s used to support patients with severe respiratory conditions that impact the lungs, including pneumonia. Before a patient is placed on a ventilator, medical staff – often anaesthetists – will perform a procedure called intubation. After a patient is sedated and given a muscle relaxant, a tube is placed through the mouth and into the windpipe. The breathing tube is then attached to the ventilator and medical staff can adjust the rate that it pushes the air and oxygen into the lungs, and adjust the oxygen mix.

The ventilators at Kenyatta University can be produced at Sh. 500,000 and the university has the capacity to produce 50 units per week.

The initiative is a collaboration among students from the engineering, nursing, medicine and pharmacy schools.

The development comes as Kenya today recorded two new Covid-19 cases, raising the number to 191.

To date, a total of 24 people have recovered from the disease, while seven have died.

The ventilator was driven by engineering school dean Dr Shadrack Mambo and Prof Nicholas Gikonyo, who is the chairman of the Chandaria Business Innovation and Incubation Centre, where the project is housed.

KU has filed for patent with the Kenya Industrial Property Institute.

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All the materials used for the prototype were locally sourced.

Industrialisation CS Betty Maina and KU vice chancellor Prof Paul Wainaina attended the launch of the prototype on Saturday.

Kenya has also stepped up efforts to produce face masks and PPEs. Maina had said the masks should not retail for more than Sh. 20. KU Ventilators.

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