Afghan all-female robotics team creates ventilator amid coronavirus
In the eastern Afghan city of Herat, 18-year-old high school student, Somaya Faruqi belongs to an all-female robotics team that have created a low-cost, lightweight ventilator.
The team, which won international awards for its robots, started work in March on an open-source, low-cost ventilator following lockdown measures across the world due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The seven-women team took four months to finalise the design of the ventilator, which is partially based on a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) design, and they received guidance from experts at Harvard University.
The device is easy to carry, and can run on battery power for 10 hours and costs $700 to produce.
This is a miniscule price, compared with the $20,000 price of a traditional ventilator, and the team’s design could provide much-needed, and affordable support to medical professionals in the war-torn country.
“We are delighted that we were able to take our first step in the field of medicine and to be able to serve the people in this area as well.
“All members of our team feel happy because after months of hard work, we were able to achieve this result,” Faruqi told Reuters.
The ventilator has to undergo final testing from health authorities before it can be used in an official capacity, but they are optimistic about the machines, especially given that only 800 ventilators exist to treat a growing number of coronavirus cases in Afghanistan.
Health Ministry Spokesman Akmal Samsor said once the ventilators are approved they would be given out to Afghan hospitals.
The novel design will be shared with the World Health Organisation.
“We appreciate the initiative and creativity in Afghanistan’s health sector...after they are approved, we will use these ventilators and we are determined to contract with companies so we can also export them,” he said.
Afghanistan has recorded around 35,500 Covid-19 cases and 1,181 deaths, however experts believe the true count is much higher than official figures suggest.