CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – The very first of countless South African-designed ventilators rolled off a Cape Town assembly line on Friday, responding to demands from health centers needing them for extreme COVID-19 cases but not able to get them on international markets, officials stated.
FILE PHOTO: A health employee strolls in between beds at a short-lived field healthcare facility established by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) during the coronavirus illness (COVID-19) outbreak in Khayelitsha municipality near Cape Town, South Africa, July 21,2020 REUTERS/Mike Hutchings -/ File Picture
Badly resourced hospitals across Africa, which is nearing a million cases of COVID-19– majority of them in South Africa– have struggled to handle a growing case load amid a global scramble favouring richer nations in acquiring ventilators and protective equipment.
South Africa, which now has the world’s fifth highest infection burden of around 482,169 verified cases, introduced a 250 million rand ($1480 million) task in April to make them here.
” Today the first batch of completed ventilators are coming off the assembly line, part of a preliminary order of 10,000 units,” Ebrahim Patel, the trade and market minister, stated during a COVID-19 conference.
He added that 20,000 would be integrated in total.
Based on the medical experience of COVID-19 epicentres such as China, Britain and the United States, the federal government decided that the production of non-invasive Constant Favorable Respiratory tract Pressure (CPAP) gadgets would have the best opportunity of conserving lives in South Africa, Patel stated.
Ventilators are utilized to provide oxygen to the lungs of badly ill patients, who comprise around 5%of general cases.
Each CPAP gadget includes some 30 separately produced elements, he said, including that last assembly currently occurs at the Cape Town factory of medical supplies firm Akacia Medical ahead of circulation to healthcare facilities across the nation.
” There is an around the world lack and amazing demand on some of the elements,” Peter Brierley, operations director at Akacia Medical, informed Reuters.
The company only today managed to discover a regional factory able to make crucial “peep valves” which assist manage the pressure in the device and allow the client to breathe out, he said.
Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by Tim Cocks and Gareth Jones