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Africa: Ventilators the Missing Vital Link in COVID-19 War

As Covid-19 cases become the biggest infectious pandemic in a century, officials and healthcare workers are scrambling to keep national health systems above water.

The harbinger of how bad things could get lies right in Europe’s midst, as the death toll in Italy and Spain leaps by hundreds each day.

Doctors there are struggling to keep thousands of patients alive — which requires staff, beds and a constant supply of protective equipment.

Ventilators have become like a song in every appeal from Italy to Spain and other European countries, as well as the United States.

So critical are the equipment that they will determine who survives and who dies in the Covid-19 rampage.

A ventilator is a mechanical breathing device that uses pressure to blow air into the lungs to ensure a patient gets enough oxygen.

They are mainly used in intensive care medicine and emergency medicine but also when a patient undergoing surgery is heavily anaesthetised.

SHORTAGE

They are extremely vital to the care and survival of patients with lung failure, which can be one of the complications suffered in severe cases of Covid-19.

The price of a ventilator ranges between Sh2.5 million and Sh5 million.

The United Kingdom has 8,175 ventilators, including those intended for children or located in private clinics and military storage.

But that is only 12.9 machines for every 100,000 people. But at least the government has ordered up to 30,000 more from manufacturers.