The Plateau State Government is engaging local innovators and design engineers to construct ventilators as part of its overall strategies to curtail the spread of COVID-19 and manage possible cases in the state.
The state has no record of COVID-19 case but surrounding states of Kaduna, Bauchi, Benue and even the FCT (Abuja) already have laboratory-confirmed cases of the virus.
However, Governor Simon Lalong has put in place a number of measures including the setting up a COVID-19 Taskforce to advise and implement on strategies at taming the pandemic in that part of central Nigeria that is less than three hours drive to Abuja, Nigeria’s political capital where cases have spiked.
As the coronavirus crisis grows vide globally putting governments and health authorities on the edge, hardware experts are increasingly under pressure to meet mounting demands for ventilators – an essential in managing serious cases of the virus infection.
In medical contexts, a ventilator is a machine that helps a patient breathe. This machine pumps oxygen into the lungs and removes carbon dioxide through a tube. The insertion of this tube into a person’s windpipe (trachea) is called incubation.
The coronavirus weakens the lungs of victims and increasingly makes it difficult for them to breathe in a way that systematically erases the patient’s chances of survival.
A ventilator simply takes over the body’s breathing process when disease has caused the lungs to fail. This gives the patient time to fight off the infection and recover.
Since the COVID-19 became a pandemic, hospitals worldwide are overwhelmed and ventilators have become scarce and expensive.
All over the world, there is a rush for ventilators but scaling up production has been tough and bump leaving wide space for innovators to leverage on.
“Governor Lalong is motivated by the need to fill the gaps, get the state more prepared, find workable solutions, encourage indigenous entrepreneurship in great moments of needs such as we have now,” said a senior COVID-19 Taskforce member in Jos.
“The governor and his team believe that the pandemic is a challenge to put our local innovators, designers and engineers to test. This is not the time to fold arms or doubt the ingenuity of abundant local skills,” the official added.
The government already has a convincer in how a team turned around the broken down ventilators at Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH).
This week, a small team of young men were able to fix three ventilators that had long been abandoned and discarded by JUTH.
They helped to increase the number of ventilators in JUTH to six and made the hospital more prepared to handle cases.
“In a resource-limited setting like ours, this is no mean feat. It is a testament to the possibilities that the Governor Lalong is increasingly demonstrating by his believe in local skills and in technology,” said Director General of Plateau State ICT Development Agency (PICTDA).
According to the latest figures by the World Health Organisation (WHO), there are now over 900,000 laboratory-confirmed cases of the virus, worldwide and 37,826 deaths. In Nigeria, there are now over 170 cases.