At a time where the world is grappling with the lethal COVID-19, the need for life-saving hospital equipment has increased. A Zimbabwean voluntary organization has stepped up to provide ventilators and “associated components” to Zimbabweans in this time of uncertainty and health crisis.
The organization, Kufema Zimbabwe (in English, Breathe Zimbabwe) is an initiative started by Juliet le Breton to help those affected by the virus. She is a social entrepreneur, women empowerment activist, and international development consultant. The organization builds and supplies ventilators, together with associated components to ease the burden on the public health system that already struggles in terms of providing adequate health equipment.
It is an open-source project for the sole intention of building and distributing ventilators during the COVID-19 crisis. The team comprises “engineers, medical personnel, logistics experts, equipment suppliers, fundraisers, bankers, educators and many more.”
Their website reads, “We all know the time for ‘someone must do something’ is over. It’s time for all of us to say ‘we must do something, together!’”
Tim Masson, a team member of Kufema Zimbabwe said, “Here’s our vision: all over Zimbabwe, engineers will come together in teams to develop, test and build open-source ventilators so that we can double or triple the national supply and save lives.”
The team has set up a GoFundMe with the target of raising £50,000 and so far they have raised more than £9,000. Within a day and a half of launching, they managed to attract 300 volunteer engineers, 3D printers, medics, logistic experts and coders.
Another team at the Harare Institute of Technology has created a ventilator that will be deployed in the fight against the novel coronavirus. Zimbabwe’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Publicity, Nick Mangwana, said that the team has the potential to develop 40 of those ventilators per day.
He tweeted: “When Prof Murwira said @HarareInstitute had developed a ventilator, soon to be deployed to help fight #Covid19Zim, even this believer had a flicker of doubt until I accompanied the Deputy Minister and Higher Education PS there this morning.- Potential to make 40/day of these.”
Reports say that Zimbabwe’s Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital in the capital Harare, which was specified to handle and treat COVID-19 patients is not adequately equipped with ventilators and other components.
As of 29 March, Zimbabwe has 7 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one death. The death came as a result of failure to find a plug for a ventilator. The ventilator had been provided by the patient’s family. The country has imposed a 21-day lockdown effective from 30 March to curtail the spread of the deadly virus.