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Distribution plan for locally made respiratory ventilators expected soon

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority had given the green light for the production of the first batch of ventilators.

Image: 123rf

CAPE TOWN - A distribution plan for locally produced respiratory ventilators is being formulated.

In April, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition tasked the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (Sarao) to manage the development and production of ventilators as part of government’s COVID-19 response.

Sarao last week signed the first production contract, which will see 10,000 of these units being manufactured by the middle of this month.

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority had given the green light for the production of the first batch of ventilators.

The national ventilator project has now completed testing of the continuous positive airway pressure and high-flow nasal oxygen therapy devices.

NVP0 project manager, Willem Esterhuyse, explained that the respiratory ventilators were easy to use and adhered to the highest safety requirements.

"From the outset, we realised that you weren’t going to have trained doctors that were going to be able to look after every single patient, so one, it’s got to be something that’s easy to use, but also you want something that’s inherently safe."

Esterhuyse said that before these devices were assembled, they’d have a plan of where the ventilators would be distributed depending on the level of need.

"The Solidarity Fund funds the production of these ventilators and then it will be donated to the Department of Health, so we’re working with the Department of Health to come up with the distribution plan to decide what will be going where and that plan will be on the table in the next week or so."

Western Cape ICU experts have recently shared the benefits of using high-flow nasal oxygen in the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

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