Liberia: German Biomedical Engineer Manufactures Local 'Ventilator' Using Scrap Medical Equipment

Monrovia — One of the key pieces of medical equipment, in the fight against the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)-nCoV-II that some of the most powerful nations seem to have run short on supply, is now being produced locally in Liberia from medical scrap materials.

Ventilator, which until few weeks ago, seemed to have completely gone out of stock in the US as various state governors tussled with the Federal administration over who needed the little on hand the most.

Why Is Ventilator So Important and Cost

Simply put, a ventilator 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. It moves breathable air into and out of the lungs, to deliver breaths to a patient who is physically unable to breathe, or breathing insufficiently.

A hospital-grade ventilator is a costly machine -- running between US$25,000 and US$50,000. Because the coronavirus, in extreme cases, can cause breathing difficulties, these machines are vital to saving lives during the pandemic.

One Ventilator in Country

In Liberia, there are reports that the country may only have a single ventilator, which is probably at the Charles H. Rennie Hospital in Kakata, Margibi County.

Even oxygen canisters are also very limited in supply in the nation's health facilities.

So manufacturing it locally to make it affordable on the market is worthwhile.

The builder of the local ventilator, Mr. Hans Goldman, a German Biomedical Engineer told FrontPageAfrica recently that his goal is to help the Liberian healthcare system to have the breathing-aid machines in the hospitals and the Covid-19 Treatment Units (CTUs).

FrontPageAfrica met Mr. Goldman at the head office of the Liberia Medical and Dental Council (LMDC) where he had gone to display how the live-saving machine works.

The LMDC is an autonomous agency with exclusive powers and authority to regulate and monitor the practice of Medicine and its members within Liberia.

According to Mr. Goldman, his simple ventilator can be built by any good bio-technician.

"I took me four weeks to build it because this is health emergency period," he said, adding: "Now, I am trying to go through the process of certification so that government or any private health facilities can use it."

"The ventilator has all the needed pieces on big ventilator. This machine is portable and can be easily moved from room to room," Mr. Goldman, who works at the ELWA Hospital, said.

The medical Bioengineer said the good thing about the machine is that all of its parts can be found right inside Liberia at various health facilities.

He also disclosed that he didn't build the machine alone, even though he supervised the process. He said he was helped by one of his brilliant students, whom he used to teach at Booker Washington Institute (BWI) in Kakata.

Cost of His Machine

On the cost, Mr. Goldman said the total cost of the machine will be around US$4000, which according to him will include certification and other production costs.

"I want to help; I don't want to get a million dollar from it. I am just looking forward to getting my exact money that I spent to produce it. At the same time, I look forward to teach local technicians to learn how to manage and maintain the machine properly."

JFK Hospital's Biomedical Technician

Making remarks, Mr. Wilfred Lawrence, JFK Hospital's Biomedical Technician said such unit was greatly needed in hospitals and CTU as it will help save lives in those places.

Mr. Lawrence said he had done some checks on the machine in order to know its efficiencies, including electrical and safety of patient. "I checked the safety alarm, running time and maintenance, I saw that it is indeed good for our country's health facilities.

He used the occasion to urge the Liberia Medicines and Health Regulatory Authority (LMHRA), the body responsible to certify the product's usage in Liberia, to go ahead and give Mr. Goldman his license to produce the machine.

Dr. Jerry Brown on Ventilator

On Friday, April 10, responding after the Indian Community in Liberia had made a donation to the Covid-19 fight, Dr. Jerry Brown, who is the lead doctor at the 14 Military Hospital, the nation's main CTU, thanked God that all of his patients have all been stable and none has had any critical complications so far that will require ventilator or oxygen. Dr. Brown, who is the General Administration of the JFK Hospital, however, appealed for ventilator and other vital equipment to be brought at the 14 Military Hospital.

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