Defy is working on a project to produce medical ventilators to aid the health services in assisting South Africans afflicted with Covid-19.  AP
Defy is working on a project to produce medical ventilators to aid the health services in assisting South Africans afflicted with Covid-19. AP

Defy working on producing medical ventilators to aid SA health services

By Edward West Time of article published Apr 15, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - Defy , a home appliance manufacturer, is working on a project to produce medical ventilators to aid the health services in assisting South Africans afflicted with Covid-19.

Working with stakeholders and led by the University of Cambridge’s Open Ventilation System Initiative, Defy would be contributing towards South Africa’s National Ventilator Project – without any commercial benefit, the company said in a statement yesterday. 

It encouraged other stakeholders to join the cause.

Even the world’s most developed economies are struggling to find the necessary medical supplies to deal with the pandemic.

The government recently called on local industrial companies to, if possible, focus on the making of medical equipment necessary for the fight against Covid-19 in the country.
Defy said that in the upcoming weeks, the industrialisation plan was expected to roll out tens of thousands of quality-made ventilators to meet the growing demand, across sub-Saharan Africa.

“Led by the UK’s University of Cambridge, our team of scientists and engineers - including South African researchers - are finalising a ventilator design that can be industrialised for mass production,” said Defy Appliances chief executive Evren Albas.

He said the ventilator system design consisted of components Defy currently uses in the everyday production of core appliances.

“This gives us a unique advantage. Furthermore, Defy’s flexible manufacturing capabilities, together with the design and development expertise of the consortium with whom we are partnering, will allow us to fast-track ventilator production and distribution,” he said.

“Our intent is to put this project into production by May 2020, without any commercial benefit and, again, we are open to any and all kinds of co-operation and collaboration, he said.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers (Naacam) chief executive Renai Moothilal said in an interview yesterday (tue) that some 20 of the association’s members were currently working on a project to reverse-engineer the Penlon Nuffield 200 ventilator, a time-cycled ventilator driven by air pressure.

He said South Africa’s automotive components manufacturers were well placed to begin production of the ventilators at relatively short notice.

Local automotive component suppliers are well placed to take on the project because they operate in an environment where retooling to make new components as often as vehicle models are changed, is part of their normal operations.

This as the SA Medical and Education Foundation (SAME) yesterday (tue) appealed to individuals and businesses to assist in raising the R500 million urgently needed for critical medical equipment required to protect healthcare workers.

SAME is a non-profit public benefit organisation and for 17-years has been assisting government healthcare and education facilities with renovations and equipment.

Chief executive Trevor Pols said, “A five-week lockdown that has paralysed our economy is effectively buying our government a couple more months to prepare for a flooding of hospitals at the end of winter, when the pandemic is set to reach its peak.”

He said until hospitals were equipped and ready to manage the next wave of infections, the government would be left with no choice but to continue extending the lockdown period.

“We have only secured R6.1m out of an initial estimation of R50m in funding to purchase and distribute beds, patient monitors, ventilators, medical supplies and PPE items for the initial four hospitals,” he said.

BUSINESS REPORT 

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