By Reon Janse van Rensburg
A proudly South African device, known as OxERA (oxygen-efficient respiratory aid), is now used in hospitals for the treatment of Covid-19 patients. The device which administers oxygen to patients, and which can also prevent collapsed lungs in Covid-19 patients, is of great help in hospitals where there is a shortage of staff with the necessary skills to handle advanced oxygen equipment. It also offers a solution to hospitals where oxygen is in short supply. The OxERA device is an all-in-one device and fills the gap between oxygen treatment applied through facial masks and high-care, non-invasive or mechanical ventilation.
This invention was developed by a group of East London volunteers involved in the Umoya Project. Umoya is the Xhosa word for “air”. The volunteers who made their expertise available to the project include a group of doctors, mechanical engineers, mechanical designers, experts in 3D printing, entrepreneurs and other experts. For example, Dr Craig Parker, the doctor in charge of the Umoya Project, also has an engineering background, and a civil engineer, Trevor Rossouw, is the project manager. The Umoya Project therefore has a multidisciplinary approach and inspiration for the OxERA device was drawn from various sources, including 3D printers as well as scuba equipment.
The team developed a working prototype within two weeks and a final product was ready within only seven weeks.
“It has been so successful in our trials. We have been testing and refining this device since mid-2020. We were trying to find something that would be easy to use for the average hospital worker in a hospital that had constrained oxygen supply.” – Dr Craig Parker, head of the Umoya Project
The OxERA device manufactured in South Africa
(Photo – Maroela Media)
The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) has approved the OxERA device for emergency Covid-19 use. According to Reiner Gabler, managing director of Gabler Medical, the manufacturer and distributor of the device, this good news means that they can now focus on bulk manufacturing of the product and they hope to increase production so that 15 000 units a week can be produced.
According to Trevor Rossouw, Umoya’s project manager, hundreds of devices have already been supplied to the Volkswagen field hospital as well as the Frere and Cecilia Makiwane hospitals. OxERA devices have also been supplied to hospitals in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London and to rural Eastern Cape hospitals. Devices have also been supplied to other African countries, among them Zimbabwe and Botswana.
Use the following link to find out more about the project: https://umoya.org.za/
Newly approved oxygen device could be game changer for hospitals with low supply – https://www.capetalk.co.za/articles/405817/newly-approved-oxygen-device-could-be-game-changer-for-hospitals-with-low-supply
Nuwe SA tegnologie kan Covid-19-pasiënte help – https://maroelamedia.co.za/nuus/sa-nuus/nuwe-sa-tegnologie-kan-covid-19-pasiente-help/