Researchers from the First Technical University (Tech-U), Ibadan, have developed prototypes for manual and digital ventilators.
Though the university is shut like others due to the Coronavirus pandemic, a team of researchers led by Dr. Olawale Ajibola of the Department of Biomedical Engineering spent the last one month working on the devices.
Ajibola said the team members, Dr. Isaac Olaoye, Dr. Oladapo Fagbohun, Olumide Adebayo, Abdulwahab Balogun, Mr. Gafar Suleiman, Mr Samuel Olaleye, and two students, Gbolahan Fakayode, Quoyyum Oladokun hardly had a break during the period.
“Some members of the team who are fasting particularly have a story to tell as some people could not even go home for days,” he said.
The team developed the manual ventilator as an alternative for the digital considering the challenges of electricity supply in the country.
Last week, they presented prototypes of two ventilators to the university’s management led by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ayobami Salami.
Speaking at the unveiling of the prototypes, Salami challenged higher institutions in the country to rise to the cause of nation-building.
According to him, the resolution of critical problems, including the search for a solution to coronavirus pandemic, ought to bring out the best in them.
Also at the unveiling of the ventilators were the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Adesola Ajayi; the Registrar, Mrs. Olayinka Balogun and Bursar, Mr. Kehinde Olatokun.
Praising the team for the timely feat, Salami said the successful production of the equipment indicated that the university was determined to prove its relevance as a theory and practice-oriented one.
He said: “Our country and the world, in general, are facing a common strong enemy at the moment. Apart from disrupting almost every facet of our lives, COVID-19 has proved to everyone that you cannot, as a people, always rely on other nations for survival because everyone is primarily now fighting its own battle, trying to primarily save the lives of its own people.
The best we can, therefore, do for ourselves as Nigerians are to turn the adversity created by coronavirus into a blessing by looking inwards and devising strategies and solutions that will be useful even after the pandemic might have gone.
“Amid the current crisis, many people have been asking questions concerning what Nigerian universities have been doing to stop the disease.
Indeed, they are extending the question to other fundamental challenges that the country is facing, including those bordering on power generation and supply.
These are valid questions because tertiary institutions must be at the centre of national development for them to be able to worth their names.
Of course, there is a big hole in this regard in the Nigerian education industry and that is what Technical University is poised to fill.”
The Vice-Chancellor further said that the management would present the ventilators to the Governor of Oyo State, Seyi Makinde, who is also the Visitor of the university.
Explaining the function of the equipment, Ajibola, said a patient is placed on a ventilator to treat respiratory conditions such as apnea, hypoxia, trauma and other conditions as may impede the adequate supply of oxygen to the respiratory system of the body.
Speaking of how it works, he said: “This design employs humidifier, compressed air, oxygen inlet and electro-pneumatic valves for its operation.
The principle is based on the breathing rate per minute (bpm) of an adult by simultaneously controlling the operation of the valves with the ultimate goal of delivering clean air to the oxygen mask attached to the face of the patient. This design is fully automated.”
Concerning the mechanical, he said the bag valve mask popularly known as the Ambu-bag is used for emergency manual ventilation or resuscitation.
“The aim is to mimic the natural process of respiration. Its modus operandi is by exerting intermittent pressure on the bag at regular intervals in order to supply enough air to the patient through the oxygen mask while the bag valve mask recovers its form. It also has an accompanying hose for oxygen use.
“The ventilator applies positive pressure on the Ambu-bag at set interval synonymous to the regulated time to meet up with the respiratory rate of an adult of between 12 and 18 breaths per minute (bpm).
This system uses electro-pneumatic valves for control and a pneumatic cylinder for the actuation of the Ambu-bag. The system is set to run at an average of 15 breaths per minute,” he said.