17 August 2017

Tanzania: Students' Ingenuity to Make Food Much Safer

Arusha — BAD weather, infections, diminishing immunity or simply calamities? Well, while all these could be the causes, many diseases affecting most Tanzanians have been discovered to originate from dinner tables.

To solve the problem, students from the Arusha Technical College (ATC) have invented automatic utensil washing and sterilising machine which can rapidly clean food plates and free the cutlery from germs and impurities at a speed of 5 utensils per minute.

"We have realised that most, if not all, ailments breed from the plates onto which food is served," said Mr Emmanuel Daniel, the team leader of one of the innovative students' groups at ATC, pointing out that the old simple soap and water dish cleaning procedures at homes, are not enough to sanitize table wares.

"Our machine not only saves cleaning time, but ensures that each piece of utensil is allocated the same amount of soap and water, unlike when the plates are cleaned manually where some parts can be overlooked and other pieces bypassed," he said.

Electrical and Biomedical Engineering students at the Arusha Technical College are currently inventing and innovating new devices, including automatic water treatment and storage system; dumpsite garbage regulating system and utensils cleaning and sanitizing machine.

Their field of study, alternately called Biomedical Engineering Equipment field, is considered to be new in most African countries, including Tanzania.

The Rector at ATC, Engineer Richard Masika, stated that skills gaps or lack of skills in this field had been one of the main causes for lack of maintenance and repair for most of the equipment and tools used in hospitals and medical centres in the country, especially in rural areas.

"The situation analysis carried out by ATC in some major hospitals in Tanzania in 2011 showed that 80 per cent of the equipment were not functioning due to lack of skilled personnel in the field of Biomedical Engineering," he said.

According to Dr Masika, it was against these findings that the college established the Electrical and Biomedical Engineering programme at Diploma level in the 2012/13 academic year, followed by that of Bachelor's degree level in the 2016/17 academic year.

It was considered that blending of Electrical and Biomedical Engineering skills would give a competitive edge for the graduates, especially in the labour market.

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