Uganda car maker in plans to make ventilators locally

Wednesday April 22 2020

A low-cost ventilator developed by Kiira Motors

A low-cost ventilator developed by Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC) and the School of Public Health at Makerere University. PHOTO | KMC 

MICHAEL WAKABI
By MICHAEL WAKABI
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Uganda’s budding automotive manufacturer Kiira Motors Corporation has teamed up with the Makerere School of Public Health to develop a low-cost ventilator that can be rapidly put on use for coronavirus patients.

The ventilator being proposed by Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC) and the School of Public Health at Makerere University, is based on open access designs from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Florida and other Public License Ventilator Technology Developers.

KMC and the School of Public Health plan to adapt these designs, to the African setting with an emphasis on localisation of the supply chain to support mass production.

“The capacity developed in the area for local content participation in the manufacture of low-cost ventilators will be valuable to Uganda even post the Covid-19 Pandemic,” Kiira Motors and Makerere University say in their proposal.

Global demand

They further argue that in light of the current spike in demand for the devices, surges in conventional ventilator production are unlikely to satisfy global demand and will come at higher prices.

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Funds have been secured to finance the building of the first 40 units of serial production.

The engineering release is complete and bench testing of the design using artificial lungs started a week ago.

According to sources, the tests on the single unit that has been built so far, are intended to verify if the design will deliver the predicted performance.

Another three prototypes will be developed to further validate the product. These will be tested on live animals under supervision of vets, before proceeding to clinical trials on humans under the supervision of medical doctors.

Once it has been encased, the device will also be subjected to stress tests to see if it can withstand shocks such as falls when a worker accidentally drops it.

Once it has passed these stages a strategy for commercial manufacturing will be agreed. This will include decisions on how the different components will be sourced, the assembly site and route to market.

The project is partly informed by Uganda’s own acute lack of ventilators, which are critical in the management of acute pneumonia to assist in respiration in severe cases of the disease.