AFRICA’S HOMEGROWN HEROES Honoris Medical Simulation Centre
COVID-19 dealt a significant blow to a continent that for many years has faced a shortage of highly experienced medical personnel and equipment. The rapid spread of the virus necessitated a fast response, with the acquisition of PPE, diagnostics, devices, and medicines all of which represented major priorities. Life-saving devices such as ventilators have proven to be in short supply globally, with many of the world’s poorest nations struggling to acquire the equipment. There continues to be a drastic shortage of emergency supplies and expertise across the African continent. At the forefront of addressing these challenges is The Medical Simulation Centre a leading African medical training institution by Honoris United Universities (HUU), with a mission to train students and offer medical education within the framework of continuing professional development for healthcare professionals. In a project led by Professor Nidhal Rezg from UniversitCentrale in Tunisia, a HUU member institution, Director of the Medical Simulation Centre and a leading surgeon, Professor Chadli Dziri, MD, and anesthesiologist Dr. Mamoun Ben Cheikh, provided consultation on the design to successfully produce a prototype for a non-invasive ventilation system. The prototype was made available as an open-source software without patent, and using commonly accessible and inexpensive components, making it affordable and easy to produce globally. The non-invasive kit includes a protective 3D-printed face mask that connects to an electric insufflator – the body of which can also be 3D-printed. Attached to the insufflator is an oxygen tank that delivers a predetermined, fixed concentration of oxygen. Further actions by the Center to support the fight against COVID-19 will include the development of a non-invasive ventilation system for patients suffering from breathing difficulties and the provision of virtual simulation using augmented reality to train health sciences students to deal with patients who suffer from COVID-19 symptoms. This form of training is critical in helping strengthen medical preparedness and resilience for future global pandemics in Africa.
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