Tuesday, May 12, 2020


The University of Nairobi multidisciplinary team of engineers and doctors have developed a home grown portable ventilator that will reduce the cost of the current ventilators by nearly  90% .  

Speaking during a demonstration session by the lead engineers and doctors, Prof. Stephen Kiama, the University of Nairobi Vice Chancellor, congratulated the team for the hardwork put in place to ensure that the low cost portable ventilator comes to life. “This demonstrates our value of care. We care for Kenyans”, he said. He added that once the machine is deployed, it will go along way in helping Kenyans with many respiratory problems long after the COVID19 is gone.

Built using an open source software from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and having secured Food and Drugs Association approvals, the locally manufactured ventilator should have an easy time getting KEBS approvals and being deployed to help patients with breathing difficulties. The ventilator which is to use and with digital inputs and LCD display has reconfigurable pressure for adults and children. It is adaptable to multiple power sources, including solar power and hence can be used in remote locations without electricity.

According to Prof. Jackson Mbuthia,  immediate former Dean, School of Engineering, the main advantage of the UoN ventilator over the existing commercial ventilators is the biometric and data communication component with an external data storage. “The data collected can be used for further research in both engineering and medical fields. This will enable data analytics and big data modelling of patient records to be used for further research,” he said. The machine incorporates smart intelligence and hence can be operated by health professionals while far from their patients. Prof. Mbuthis is foreseeing a day when Kenyans with breathing difficulties will be able to use the ventilators in their households as they wait for the arrival of ambulances and health professionals.

Prof. Fredrick Were, former Dean, School of Medicine and former Principal, College of Health Sciences, opined that such a machine will go a long way in helping health professionals save lives. Many patients die in Ambulance while on their way to hospitals due to the manual resuscitation by health professionals. “This ventilator will go a long way in saving many lives as it gets used in ambulances”, he said.

The production team is seeking financing to enable them to move the ventillator model to the production stage.

The production team include: Dr. Peter Akuon (EIE) Team Leader, Prof. J. M. Mbuthia, Co-Lead, IoT Laboratory, University of Nairobi, Prof. Fredrick Were, Medical Doctor, Respirator Expert, UoN Medical School, Dr. Ernest Odhiambo, from Mechanical Engineering, Davies Segera, from Electronic Engineering, Benson Onyango, from Electrical Engineering, Kinyua Wachira and Faris Abdulrahman from Electronic Engineering.


UoN Ventilators, ready for production model
UoN Ventilators, ready for production model