Covid-19: NAF, FUTMinna Develop Locally-Made Ventilators

As part of efforts to curtail the deadly coronavirus disease and bring succour to patients on their journey to recovery, the Nigerian AirForce (NAF) and the Federal University of Technology, Minna have developed two locally-made emergency ventilators to support patients with respiratory challenges.

Christened NAF e-Vents, the ventilators developed by the NAF, FUT, Minna in partnership with the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, were unveiled on Wednesday, May 26, 2020 at the Nigerian AirForce Base, Kaduna by the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshall Sadique Abubakar.

Speaking before the unveiling ceremony, Air Marshall Abubakar affirmed that the production of the two ventilators was a demonstration of the Nigerian AirForce’s resolve to continue to make significant contribution to the development of the country by proffering solutions to societal problems through the use of indigenous materials and expertise.

Represented by the NAF Chief of Standards and Evaluation (COSE), Air Vice Marshall, Remigius Ekeh, Abubakar said the development was necessitated by the need to take proactive steps in tackling the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, adding that the production of the ventilators would further boost the profile of the Nigerian AirForce and the collaborating universities.

Furthermore, the Chief of Air Staff disclosed that the NAF had vigorously set the pace for robust and result-based Research and Development (R&D) policy, with emphasis on the provision of indigenous technological solutions, while noting that it had, over the years, engaged in strategic partnerships with some Ministries, Departments and Agencies with a view to reducing dependence on external partners and other nations.

He noted that the ventilators have undergone a series of tests to ascertain their effectiveness on animals with satisfactory outcomes, even as he submitted that the ventilators are now ready for human testing and certification by relevant government agencies.

Equally important, the AirForce boss further stated that private sector collaborations would be needed for mass production of the ventilators.

In an exclusive virtual chat with the Vice-Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Minna, Prof. Abdullahi Bala (fsssn), the VC expressed delight with the outcome of the research endeavour within the short period despite the lockdown and the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU). He stated that the development of the ventilators was in recognition of the university’s enhanced research drive, geared at conducting novel research to tackle societal problems rather than just for promotion purposes.

Prof. Bala commended the Nigerian AirForce for finding FUT, Minna and the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria worthy of the collaboration.

Additionally, he called on other government agencies and multinationals in the country to approach Nigerian universities for their research needs.

“The involvement of the Federal University of Technology, Minna in this novel project is a perfect demonstration of my administration’s commitment to scale up research in the university with a view towards boosting the university’s profile as a leading institution in Nigeria in terms of research, innovations and excellent service delivery. We are happy to be part of this project which is also part of our contribution to the development of the country”, he stated.

Speaking with the leader of the FUT, Minna research group who worked with the NAF researchers, Engr. Prof. Abiodun Musa Aibinu said all the materials used for the production of the ventilators were locally sourced and produced by local engineers, while disclosing that the local operating conditions of the ventilators were perfectly tested and compared with the ventilators imported from China by the team.

Engr. Prof. Aibinu who is also the Head of Department, Mechatronics Engineering, FUT, Minna expressed appreciation to the NAF for providing the enabling environment which stimulated the prompt delivery of the equipment. Also, he applauded the leader of the NAF R&D team, Group Captain Osichinaka Ubadike for displaying superb leadership skills during the course of the project. He called on the private sector to drive the commercialization process of the equipment to enable it get to the market and the reach of more Nigerians.

The successful testing of the equipment was carried out at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, ABU Zaria.

Consequently, the ventilators have been confirmed for human use and will be subjected to further validation by the appropriate government agencies before mass production.