The Ministry of Public Health on Sunday said a device built by the Herat robotics team to serve as a ventilator does not meet standards and could cause damage to coronavirus patients if it is used.
Ventilators are the main lifesaving devices for coronavirus patients, and some countries are faced with a lack of these devices in hospitals.
According to the Ministry of Public Health, Afghanistan’s hospitals have at least 300 ventilators. 19 are in Herat, the ministry says, which is the province with the highest number of coronavirus positive cases. The ministry says it will buy 50 more ventilators.
Information shows that the price for each ventilator in the world market has increased and is between $30,000 to $40,000.
“None of them (the robotics team members) have studied biomedical engineering and it has not been made under the supervision of specialists. As a doctor, I cannot use such a device for my patients,” said Wahidullah Mayar, a spokesman for the ministry.
“In order to start using it for patients, it needs to be tested by relevant specialists and approved by the World Health Organization… Otherwise, this device may cause irreversible damage to patients,” said Hamid Rahim, head of the emergency ward at Herat's regional hospital.
Members of the robotics team however defended their device.
“We consulted with doctors. They suggested that it should be made automatic,” said Samia Farooqi, member of the robotics team.
“The components used in this device can last longer--it can operate non-stop and can save power for 10 hours,” said Florans Poya, a member of the robotics team.
Efforts by other teams are also underway to build standard ventilators, according to Abdul Hakim Tamanna, head of the Public Health Directorate of Herat.
“I see this in a positive light. It will be good if its use is approved by specialists,” he said.
According to local officials, five other teams have started sharing their own homemade lifesaving breathing devices and will start building them after they get approval by health officials.