by WELLINGTON TONI
HARARE, (ITNews Zimbabwe) – THE Zimbabwean government’s response to the escalating coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has received a major boost after the country’s top technology institution announced it was venturing into the production of ventilators.
The Harare Institute of Technology (HIT) is manufacturing the equipment, whose low supply has been among factors hindering the intervention by the government.
HIT’s initiative is in line with calls for the production of ventilators at a minimum cost using locally available material.
“We are manufacturing ventilators at a cheaper cost,” Engineer Talon Garikayi, the HIT Vice Chancellor said in an interview.
He could not delve deeper into the project, with the initiative in its infancy stage.
This is the latest support to the intervention by the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the COVID-19 crisis that has claimed three lives from 14 cases as of Monday (April 13).
Unki Diamond Mine, based in the Midlands Province, last week donated ten ventilators to the Gweru Hospital at a cost of R8 million.
Zimbabwe was this week also set to take delivery of 50 low cost machines from a South African energy and industrial infrastructure company, EPCM Holdings.
Tom Cowan, the EPCM co-founder and chief executive officer, told an online publication in South Africa that using basic designs would ensure cheaper and faster production.
“The use of basic designs is to cut costs and use locally and available affordable materials in most African countries,” he is quoted as saying.
He expects the machines to cost up to US$2000 in comparison to current ones in the market that cost up to $20 000.
EPCM expects to ship 50 such machines to Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Ghana this week.
A ventilator is a machine that provides ventilation by moving breathable air into and out of the lungs to deliver breath to a patient who is physically unable to breath or breathing insufficiently.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care in Zimbabwe has been battling to source the equipment.