President of the Academic City College, Prof. Fred McBangoniuri continues to make significant strides in Ghana’s health space with some of his great engineering inventions.
The renowned Ghanaian engineer has years of expertise in manufacturing medical equipment to meet local demand.
One of his prominent inventions was the prototyped low-cost ventilator he developed to respond to the Coronavirus crisis for persons who are critically ill.
On the on-air series of the Citi Business Festival on Thursday, July 2, 2020, Prof. McBongoniuri who discussed the topic: Innovating for the future also named some of the equipment he has developed that could boost quality healthcare delivery across the West-African sub-region with the needed support.
I have worked on these normal syringes we see in hospitals. These are pump systems that require you to select the right set of materials, lubrication, metals and the polishing that ensures that when it is inserted into you, you don’t feel any optimum pain.
I have worked on syringes for India where there was a major problem in India a couple of years ago where people were actually harvesting syringes from trash cans. These syringes were taken from medical waste, clean up, and re-packaged.
This actually led to an outbreak of Hepatitis where over three million people were infected. And one of the things I did as a director of the injection system was to figure out how to develop new syringes that ensure that they can only be used once. So once you use it, if someone tries to repackage, in the end, they will not be able to do that.
Therapeutic hospital beds
I have worked on hospital beds, therapeutic surfaces, so what people don’t know is that, on the healthcare continuum, there are mattresses that you sleep on which do not feel like the mattresses in the bedroom. These are mattresses that are part of the care, which means when you move, the mattress moves.
When you are lying on them for too long and you begin to sweat, the mattress understands that you are sweating and they will be able to weak away some of the moisture from your skin so that you don’t get skin breaks.
We have developed systems that will actually massage you and enhance blood circulation through your body so you don’t get bed sores which can be one of the hospital-acquired systems that can affect a patient’s healthcare.
If you look at the global statistics [of hearing aids], it only end up in the Western World, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. The remaining 10 percent goes to the rest of the world. But as one age in this time of loud music, a lot of us are going to suffer the consequences of hearing losses as we approach middle age. I will project that about 10 percent of our Ghanaian population have hearing problems from medium to advance hearing loss. So there is a need for it here in Ghana and it’s something that I have started working on.
I have worked on hearing solutions. Basically, when one is about 60 years old, the ability to hear diminishes significantly and like eyesight, people are always in denial. But some of the stock that I invented can actually help you to hear better. They are essentially computers in your ears. They will take the sound from the environment, process the sound for you to hear. Some of the fundamental changes brought into that invention are the electronic version of it.
Once this computer is in your ear, you have two ears, which essentially means that once you program one side of the ear you will be able to transfer that information to the other ear. So it is helping people to have easier better lives. Hearing solutions help you to hear people when they speak. Some of the systems that I have developed help you with hearing instruments to enable you to listen to your television to be able to filter noise and that you walk into an environment where your system recognizes it to enable you to fine-tune to yourself so that you can have a normal hearing function.
In West Africa, where there is no health insurance, people live with this ailment for ages and they cannot get help. In the last five years in Ghana, I have received hundreds of calls from people or their spouses who are struggling, need hearing aids but they can’t have it. They are expensive and access to it is very limited. But interestingly, I have the ability to create that infrastructure here in Ghana from the electrooptic aspect all the way to the manufacturing of hearing instruments.
The technology is quite easy. In the last 20 years, it has evolved significantly. The basic components are able to capture the noise from the environment and push that information through a signal processor and then outlet it into a patient’s ears. That’s the fundamental of it. It is not that complicated by any outstanding patent that prevents us from building basic instruments. Just that, an investment under $ 1million should be able to do it and it will serve not just Ghana but the sub-region.
We actually stood up when the world was standing down. That is how I choose to put it because that was a characteristic of engineers, we like to be problem solvers even in the face of overwhelming adversity. So we built about six different prototypes of air compression systems so if you have thousands of people suffering from Coronavirus and you need to give air to them, we have a system that will help you to do that. We have prototypes now so the next step obviously is to mass produce this.
So we have about six technologies we have developed today that can provide relief to people who are going through acute pulmonary distress; we can deliver that. We got to a point where we actually needed to build some intelligence into the system which means that as we deliver air to the patient and they begin to respond, and they begin to breathe, we have to be able to detect that phenomenon so that we can control the amount of air they are getting without being drowned in air. So obviously we had to go and find those sensors so that delayed our process a little bit.
I think we are at the point that we needed to build respirators and ventilators, we can do that because we have the technology to do that.
We are now trying to be more advanced to build the 50,000 and 80,000 type ventilators capabilities so that is where we are now. We are now trying to add the whistles and bells in the $80,000 ventilators and trying to do that at GHS1,000 which means that we have to import components from China and the US.
About the Citi Business Festival
The 2020 edition of the Citi Business Festival is in the last week of the line-up of radio and TV discussions.
The final leg of the month-long festival is focusing on Science, Technology and Innovation.
So far, the business events and on-air activities have provided inspiration, business ideas, and information for persons who are starting, building or growing their businesses.
The program which began on June 1, 2020, has been featuring virtual business fora that have been live on Citi TV.
This year’s edition of the Citi Business Festival is brought to you by Citi FM and Absa bank. It is supported by GIPC and Ghana’s comprehensive business news website, citibusinessnews.com.