Kenya: Fight Against Covid-19 Has Sparked Innovations

Daniel Kabugi, Biomedical Engineering student (Kenya)

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Daniel Kabugi and I'm 24 years old. I am a 4thyear Biomedical Engineering student at Kenyatta University.

What made you choose this course?

I have always been fascinated by machines and electronics since I was young. Biomedical Engineering gave me an opportunity to exercise my ability in mathematics and innovation to help solve problems in society.

How are you helping fight COVID-19 in your country? How has your work changed since COVID-19 broke out?

I'm currently in a team of 16 people that has been working on a local invention called 'Tiba Vent' - a mechanical ventilator that is supporting COVID-19 patients with breathing. From the onset of this pandemic, we have been working tirelessly to avail affordable ventilators to the public.

Also, in my home county of Kajiado, I'm a youth leader and I like to volunteer my services. I continue to participate in online forums that aim to train community health volunteers, and with the Kenya Red Cross Society I campaign on mental health awareness among young people. Since the pandemic broke out, my working hours and workload has increased.

What affects you most in this COVID-19 situation? What keeps you going? How are you coping?

Even though my academic schedule has been interrupted, on the other hand, my passion for helping my community in solving problems in the healthcare system has increased. This is what fulfils me more than anything else. My teammates in this ventilator project have become my new family since we have been spending close to 19 hours every day working together. During our short breaks, we team-build and play in the field together, among other things.

What strategy, in your view, has worked well in this fight and what has not?

I'm glad it has sparked innovation among nations and the ability to use locally available materials to strengthen their fight against COVID-19. The challenge has been underestimating the pandemic.

What is your message to people in your country at this time of COVID-19?

Governments should give priority to health. There is no need of rushing to open economies fully while the risk is still high. Also, the public should adhere and support the set measures by their governments. Let us also take personal initiative to protect ourselves and those around us. To the youth, each one of us can do something to support the fight this pandemic, let us do it, however small it looks.

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