Kenya is on the brink of producing ventilators, an industrial breakthrough that will be a huge boost to the war on the coronavirus.
The Kenya Association of Manufactures (KAM) made public the prototype of the locally developed ventilator in Nairobi on Tuesday.
The PumuaIshi 2.0 is designed to be a complete intensive care unit respirator.
It is portable, robust, compact, economical and easy to use, KAM said.
“The primary focus of the PumuaIshi 2.0 is to provide intermittent positive-pressure ventilation (IPPV),” said Ashit Shah, an expert on ventilators made using Israeli technology.
“This is the process of manually or mechanically ventilating a patient exhibiting a brief stop of respiration as well as one who has difficult or laboured breathing.”
He added that the ventilator can easily be used by untrained people and can operate continuously for up to four hours without power.
KAM automotive sector chairman Niraj Hirani said 100 pieces would be made daily and 500 every week when mass production begins.
Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina said the breakthrough is a result of the challenge to local manufacturers to help in the war against the deadly virus.
Kenyatta University, Dedan Kimathi University of Technology and the Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute are also in the process of mass-producing such gadgets.
“These innovations need to be encouraged even after the pandemic. Kenyan manufacturers should compete in the regional and global markets,” Ms Maina said.
“It shows that local manufacturers can make and deliver critical medical equipment and when required to.”
KAM chief executive Phyllis Wakiaga said the PumuaIshi 2.0 would undergo tests and refinements in the next five days and consequently go into mass production in two to four weeks. She said the cost of producing the ventilator would be a quarter the amount needed to import a similar gadget.
“We took the challenge from the government for the good of the country and its businesses,” Ms Wakiaga added.
“The pandemic has presented an opportunity for local manufacturers to show what they can do.”