All-girls robotics team in Afghanistan designs low-cost ventilator for corona virus patients

All-female Afghan Robotic team doing wonders

In the eastern Afghan city of Herat, seven young Afghan women unveiled a low-cost, lightweight ventilator. This remarkable team has won international awards previously. They started work in March to develop a low-cost, open-source, ventilator.  The initiative came after COVID-19 hit the war-torn nation.

It took the team almost four months to finalize the ventilator. Faculty at Harvard University guided them through to finish the machine, which is partially based on a design from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

What makes this ventilator special?

The device is easily portable. It can run on battery power for 10 hours. This is important keeping in mind that regular power outages are still a norm in Afghanistan. It costs around $700 to produce. Whereas traditional ventilators cost around $20,000 each!

The team was “Delighted that we were able to take our first step in the field of medicine and to be able to serve the people in this area as well. All members of our team feel happy because, after months of hard work, we were able to achieve this result\”.

Testing the ventilator

Afghanistan has recorded around 35,500 COVID-19 cases with 1,181 deaths so far. Experts warn that the true count is probably far higher due to extremely low testing rates.

War-torn Afghanistan has a nearly non-existent health infrastructure, if and where it exists. A population of over 37 million is dependant on a mere 800 ventilators for treatment. The new ventilator is yet to undergo final testing from health authorities. However, with the rapidly-growing numbers of cases in the current situation spelling catastrophe, it is a welcome sight.

What does the future hold?

Akmal Samson, spokesperson for the Health Ministry said when the ventilators were approved, they would be rolled out in hospitals countrywide. The design would also be shared with the World Health Organization.

The ministry is also considering a possible action plan for export, should it turn out well.


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