Whereas the Covid-19 pandemic has driven many Ugandans to despair, it has also spurred innovations aimed at combating its spread.
The latest, and perhaps the least inconveniencing, is a full-body disinfectant booth that sanitizes a person in five seconds without any hassle. Dr Baterana Byarugaba, the Mulago hospital executive director, officially launched the innovation last week, writes ERNEST JJINGO.
Over the years, the world has experienced a number of pandemics that have affected the human race in various ways. However, none has ever impacted the human race like Covid-19 since its outbreak.
In the past few months, several people have come with innovations such as ventilators, temperature guns and hand sanitizers to combat or treat the pandemic. Nonetheless, the public is yet to feel the impact on a wide scale. However, that is set to change with the Wuza full-body sanitization booth launched on August 27 at Mulago National Referral hospital.
This booth, which is similar to a metal detector, is a walk-through offering automatic 360-degree disinfection within five seconds. Wuza Limited is the company behind this innovation and donated one of the booths to the hospital. In fact, if the assessment of Dr Baterana Byarugaba, the Mulago hospital executive director is anything to go by, sanitisation will never be the same, especially at public places.
"I have found this sanitisation booth highly effective, especially if used in conjunction with the other standard operating procedures (SOPs)," he said. "We promise that this equipment is going to be put to proper use because this donation will go a long way in protecting the lives of Ugandans at Mulago hospital."
I also got the chance to experience the full-body sanitization booth. I felt a cold breeze during the disinfection process but it left no stain or odour on me.
Indeed, the booth created a lot of excitement among the hospital staff, visitors and patients. Patrick Muleega operates a stationery shop within the hospital complex and said this booth will save him enormous time while also ensuring he is safe from Covid-19. "I receive many clients on a daily basis and some of them have become tired of the hand sanitizing routine but this booth is hassle-free," he says.
Mulindwa says the main reason behind making the Wuza full-body sanitization booths is to support the health sector, which is now overwhelmed by the skyrocketing cases of Covid-19.
"This method of sanitizing to prevent Covid-19 is highly effective if used in conjunction with other SOPs and we believe it will help to check on the high transmissions of the virus currently being experienced, especially in public places," he said.
Mulindwa adds he spurred to create employment to people, especially in times like these where many have lost their jobs.
"I initially wanted to import them from abroad but after finding out that Ugandans can make them locally and at a cheaper cost, I decided to set up a team to do the job," he says.
These sanitization booths can be installed at entrances to public places such as schools, churches, bars, restaurants, malls, offices, hotels, hospitals and other public gatherings where social distancing can be difficult to follow since they offer an effective way for disinfection.
These sanitization booths come in three models; the Mulin 1000, Mulin 3000 and the Mulin 2000. However, the Mulin 3000 further comes in two versions; the Mulin 3000 which has a metallic finish and the Mulin 3000 deluxe which has a timber finish. The Mulin 2000 is the child-sized model and it also comes in two versions of metal and timber finishes.
Interestingly, these booths have features like voice and visual alarms that alert of high temperature measurements, automatic start and stop spray tunnel, anti-rust aluminium floor, wheelchair accessibility, low noise self-regulating pump, anti-drip nozzles, a 20-litre tank for up to 500 sprays, internal and external wall branding, metal detector, lockable wheels and lifting hooks.
The sanitization booths can be powered by electricity, solar or a generator and can use both food grade and alcohol-based disinfectants.
Mulindwa says the other disinfectant option is TwinOxide, which is non-corrosive, does not contain bleach or chlorine. It is non-Carcinogenic, does not bleach or damage clothing.
"It has been certified by the Environmental Protection of America, OMRI,NSF 50/60, Kosher certified and Halal<" he says.
Though these booths have been locally made, Mulindwa says some equipment like temperature detectors, scanners, sensors and nozzles were imported from USA, Texas from one of the best sources in the world.
AVAILABILITY AND AFFORDABILITY
The price of the sanitization booths varies between Shs 5m to Shs 10m depending on model and size. Mulindwa says a payment plan can be arranged on a need basis and that one can even hire the booths for a public event through Wuza Limited or Silk Health.
The booths also come with a one year warranty on the entire disinfectant tunnel, free monthly inspection visits, service and repairs commencing upon installation and commissioning.
Mulindwa, however, says the biggest cost of maintaining this booth is the disinfectant but is dependent on how many people are accessing the area where it has been installed.
Though the booths have been made to help in the fight against Covid-19, Mulindwa says they will remain relevant in society even when the pandemic has been written off because they not only safeguard against the coronavirus but also other viruses.
"Even if a vaccine is found, it will still take some time for a third world country to give it out to everybody throughout the country; so, that means there will still be people infecting others on a daily basis therefore there will still be need to continue practicing the preventive measures in place which include the full body sanitization especially in public places," Mulindwa says.
So far, Wuza has made 100 booths and more than half of these have already been rolled out to the public. Mulindwa adds that plans are underway to export these booths in the region.
"We have already got an order to export to Kenya," he adds.
It remains to be seen whether the public will warm up to this new technology but there is no denying that it has raised the bar in the fight against Covid-19.
HOW IT WORKS
The Wuza full-body sanitization booth is fitted with an infrared temperature reader that takes a person's temperature before going through. If the temperature is higher than normal, the machine raises an alarm whereas if it is normal, the person then proceeds to have their hands sanitized by the automatic hand sanitization point.
The person then proceeds to the spray area and by the help of the motion sensors embedded in the machine. The spray nozzles located above and sideways the machine are triggered to release a mist of the disinfectant for five seconds.
Isaac Mulindwa Junior, the executive director of Wuza Limited, says the disinfectant in the spray kills viruses that may be attached to clothing, accessories or any other item. He adds that the disinfectant is eco-friendly, suitable for both children and adults and safe for use on the skin.