When COVID-19 hit, Edmund he put his engineering design skills to work – creating a locally produced ventilator that is cheaper to produce, distribute and maintain. Soon after it became clear that COVID-19 might overwhelm Zimbabwe’s health services, Edmund decided to create a ventilator using affordable and locally sourced parts. “There is a shortage of ventilators in Zimbabwe, and the current ventilators on the market are too expensive for most Zimbabwean medical institutions,” Edmund says, adding: “If no action is taken the health system will be overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients who require assistance to breathe.”
His first prototype was produced in March 2020, and was based on an open source design using a robotically compressed bag valve mask, which had satisfactory results. With the assistance of the Ministry of Health officials in Zimbabwe, Edmund consulted with experts and clinicians on the best way to improve the ventilators he had created. His prototype’s success attracted the attention and product development support from the Harare Institute of Technology (HIT). This partnership considerably improved Edmund’s ventilator.
The improved ventilator model passed animal tests at the University of Zimbabwe Veterinary Department. Currently, procurement of medical grade parts for the ventilator are in progress, so that it can also be connected to anaesthesia systems for human trials.
INNOVATION HUB START-UP
Edmund is a PhD scholar at India’s Amity University. He is also a lecturer and program coordinator in machine design and evolutionary techniques at HIT. He also runs a start-up innovation hub at HIT.
Edmund hopes that once fully functional the affordable ventilator will be available beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, and be made readily available and accessible in both urban and rural areas, both in Zimbabwe and across the Southern African region.