Known as the Stellar Ventilator model, it was first developed by engineers and students of the Academic City College in Accra as a response to the inadequate supply of ventilators during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since 2020, the engineers and students, under the leadership of the Founder and President of the college, Professor Fred McBagonluri, have updated the instrument four times, with the fifth edition set to be released onto the market within six months.
The fifth edition, which was exhibited at the Local Ventilators for Africa Medical Technology Fair in Accra yesterday, according to Prof.
McBagonluri, had gone through the off-site biomedical testing and was now set for clinical testing at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.
The project lead, Dr Lucy Agyapong, said after the second test, the equipment would again go through regulatory certification before it would be produced for the market.
The ventilator was manufactured under the Locovent4Africa project, which aims at developing, manufacturing and distributing a cadence of low-cost ventilators using locally available and off-the-shelf materials.
It was to assist in the treatment of patients suffering from acute respiratory diseases resulting from the COVID-19, as well as other respiratory infections.
The project was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development.
Prof. McBagonluri said the fair was significant because it prepared people, especially students, with practical skills beyond theory to position them for a dynamic world.
He called for support to build and make more local devices that were unique to the country, as “we do not lack the technical know-how”, adding: “We have the knowledge but lack the support to find solutions to our problems.”
The fair, which was on the theme: “Building local capacity in medical technology”, was attended by medical device manufacturers, researchers, members of academia, students, health practitioners, policy makers, health service providers, regulators, among others.
They were briefed on progress made in the manufacture of the locally made ventilator.
Participants also showcased equipment such as locally made heartbeat monitors, an electric wheelchair, transport incubator and optimo-version hand sanitiser.
The students also exhibited prototypes of their products to demonstrate their skills in medical technology.
In a speech read on his behalf by the Head of the Biomedical Department of the Ministry of Health, Dr Nicholas Adjabu, the Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, commended the management and the students of the college for their innovations, which he said could help solve the numerous challenges confronting the health sector in the country.
According to the minister, the COVID-19 pandemic was a wake-up call to action and said with the escalating cost of medical devices imported into the country, “we cannot afford to continue to look unconcerned without making any effort in developing our industries”.
“This achievement is, therefore, a step in the right direction. Where necessary, we will lend our support to this great effort to propel our country into a medical devices production hub,” he added.