The COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed the way the world operates, forcing the globe to turn to virtual settings and create physical distance in the presence of others. Five African inventions prove useful during the COVID-19 pandemic by strengthening health care responses and offering protection against COVID-19 infections.
5 African Inventions Helping During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Tiba Vent. Kenyan student Daniel Kabugi and a team of 15 others developed the Tiba Vent in 2020, a portable, low-cost “mechanical ventilator” that aids the respiration of patients who have contracted COVID-19 and “other acute respiratory illnesses.” With the Tiba Vent, Kenya is expected to increase its resources from 500 ventilator units to more than 30,000. This low-cost machine comrpises 90% locally sourced materials and was in the process of clinical trials in July 2020. The Tiba Vent has the potential to save millions of lives in Kenya and beyond.
- Wellvis COVID-19 Triage Tool. Nigerian Dr. Wale Adeosun is a co-founder of Wellvis, an app that launched in 2019 to facilitate the online sharing of health information and services. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the creators of the Wellvis app decided to integrate into the platform a tool called the Wellvis COVID-19 Triage Tool. The tool uses responses to clinical questions to determine an individual’s COVID-19 risk level. The tool then directs the individual to the “appropriate next steps.” The Wellvis app, in general, allows for the online scheduling of remote appointments. In this way, the app can aid medical professionals by alleviating crowds in doctor offices and hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic. The app also provides health information and a “question and answer platform” to combat misinformation and increase access to reliable health information.
- Handwashing Machine. Sanitation is important to practice during the COVID-19 pandemic to avoid infection. In 2020, Stephen Wamukota, a 9-year-old boy from Kenya developed a handwashing machine that has become a complete game-changer in his community. Standing as one of the simplest yet innovative African inventions, this basic machine utilizes foot pedals to dispense water and soap so that people do not have to touch any surfaces with their hands during the handwashing process. This process significantly reduces the risk of infection and provides a community with the opportunity to safeguard their health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Dr. Car Robot. Originally a project from Dakar Polytechnic School students in Senegal, this robot allows for the delivery of medications, takes body temperatures and measures the blood pressure of COVID-19 patients at the hospital without the need for human interaction. Controlled remotely from an app and equipped with cameras, the Dr. Car (or Docteur Car) robot “speaks four languages,” which makes it accessible to a large audience in African hospitals and reduces the risk of spreading COVID-19.
- 3D-Printed Masks. With the huge demand for protective face masks across the world, South African innovator Natalie Raphil is using a 3D printer to produce 100 3D-printed face masks per day. Raphil’s idea for 3D-printed masks came about during South Africa’s most intense level of lockdown “when imports and exports were at a standstill and PPE was in demand” for health workers in the country. Raphil’s invention allowed for an inexpensive, efficient way to supply masks to health professionals at the forefront of the pandemic.
A Look Ahead
Amid a global health crisis, African innovators and changemakers of all ages have developed creative solutions to help address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. These recent African inventions are proof that when humanity faces a new hardship, innovation prevails.
– Kler Teran