The Lagos State Government has described as a game-changer, the AmbuVent – ventilator – produced by a team of researchers from the University of Lagos.
The state Commissioner for Science and Technology, Mr Hakeem Fahm, made the observation at the presentation of the AmbuVent to the government by the researchers.
The project, known as the University of Lagos/Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council (UNILAG/LASRIC) AmbuVent, was sponsored the Lagos State Government.
The project was aimed at tackling the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The project is aimed at proffering solution to respiratory challenges associated with COVID-19 and other respiratory issues.
Fahm said at the presentation that the device was a highly specialised equipment that cost millions of naira or dollars.
He noted that its availability was limited worldwide.
“And here, we have a team of engineers, medical professionals and scientists working together to come up with a locally-sourced product that works.
“This is going to be a ‘game-changer’ in Nigeria because we no longer have to wait to place orders for something like this when it can actually be manufactured locally. It is also available on scale.
“You can have a big one as well as a miniature one that can be carried anywhere, which can be very useful for rural areas.
“Because it is made in Nigeria, the researchers are cognisant of the fact that there are challenges of electricity; so, this device can operate with the regular power supply, battery and also can be solar-powered. It is a plus,” he said.
The commissioner hailed the team for the feat.
“This is great, and we are indeed proud of this Unilag team.
“Please extend this to other universities for collaboration,” he said.
Fahm gave the assurance that the equipment would be applicable to hospitals and any other place that a respirator would be needed.
He hoped that the ventilator production would spark new ideas and add value in tackling challenges of people with respiratory problems, caused by COVID-19 or other health challenges.
“It is important for us to understand the fact that we will continue to invest in laudable projects like this for our country, because, if we make it here, it is ours.
“If we need to fix it, we do that locally, and we can always improve on it,” Fahm said.
Mr Olatunbosun Alake, Special Assistant to Lagos Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Innovation and Technology, said he was not surprised that the scholars came up with the device.
“I have always known that we have a deep level of intelligence and ingenuity in Nigeria, especially in Lagos State.
“Like it has always been said, necessity is the mother of invention; this is a testament of that.
“This is going to add tremendous value to our healthcare system because, for starters, it brings down the cost of production of this kind of life-saving equipment, and once we are able to successfully commercialise it, it will become a good example of other things that we can do,” he said.
He commended the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe for championing this cause.
“I also know that the Lagos State Government is passionate about driving value creation.
“We are going to work as fast as possible to get this project fly, as we all understand the unique situation facing the country,” he said.
Responding, Dr Uzoma Oduah, one of the brains behind the project, said he was excited at the feat, which he described as materialisation of a dream.
Oduah, who is in the Department of Physics, University of Lagos, said: I inspired the project.
“My thought when I started was to achieve reliability, efficiency, affordability, over 80 per cent local content, mass production ability and simple device.
“All those are embedded in the project. I am most excited.”
The university’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Development Services), Prof. Folasade Ogunsola, described AmbuVent as a ventilator in a bag.
She said that the idea was to ensure that it could be easily moved to any part of the country.
According to her, a professional can stay in any part of the country and give instructions to another person elsewhere on how to manipulate or operate the device.
“We can deploy it anywhere. More importantly, it has a global implication because even rich countries are looking for small portable things that are not costly.
“It has shown that when we start to do things, we will get things of low cost, because we necessarily have to think like that.
“I am sure, this project has market value and also impact for healthcare,” Ogunsola said.
The team of researchers had last week carried out ‘demonstration of concept’ of the AmbuVent to the institution’s management.
The Team Lead, AbdulHakeem Amuda, an Associate Professor in Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, University of Lagos, said at the demonstration that the project provided an opportunity for scholars to prove their mettle.
According to Amuda, the ventilator has met basic requirements as specified by the World Health Organisation.
He said that one of the unique features of the ventilator was its ability to work in villages not connected to the national grid, as it used battery that could last for 13 hours and a trolley for easy movement.
Amuda said that the ventilator was designed to use 90 watts motor, adding that it was made in such a way that the motor must not be needed for 24 hours daily.
He said that a critical component of the ventilator was that of delivering compression that would inflate the lungs as well as the microcontroller system.
“The journey of the development of this UNILAG/LASRIC Ambuvent started on March 27 when a colleague of mine, Dr Uzoma Oduah, walked up to me and muted that as a result of the global shortage of standard ventilators at this period of global health crisis, it would be good if Nigeria could start thinking ahead on what to do.”