Pakistan is a prime example of how “Necessity is the mother of Invention”. Having diagnosed its first Covid-19 patient almost two months back, Pakistan feared an unimaginable crisis and uncertainty ahead. All the Western countries including USA, Italy, and United Kingdom faced unprecedented health crisis and shortage of medical supplies which eventually led to failure of their health system.
Imran Khan praises efforts of Pakistani engineers and inventors
While similar fear lurches over our heads in Pakistan, the Ministry of Sciences and Technology along with Ministry of Health has some good news this weekend. Fawad Chaudhry, Minister of Science and technology in collaboration with Pakistan engineering Council, conducted an exhibition in COMSTECH center to exhibit medical equipment and supplies developed locally including both public and private sector. Prime Minister Imran Khan visited the exhibition and praised local engineers and inventors for their contribution towards the country. Dr. Zafar Mirza, special assistant to PM on Health, announced that Pakistan is becoming self-sufficient in medical supplies to deal with Covid-19 including PPEs, Ventilators, Sanitizers, and other Disinfectants.
This news is a breather for Pakistan that is witnessing rise in Covid-19 infection among doctors and paramedics while they fight on front line without sufficient precautionary gear. Last month, several protests erupted across the country to urge government for arranging protective gear for doctors to save them from catching the virus.
Pakistan’s efforts to deal with Pandemic
Since the first case detected in Pakistan, the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Sciences and Technology, Federal and all provincial governments are working in their limited capacity to deal with this pandemic. There have been a lot of criticisms, distasteful fights among provinces, protests by doctors and paramedics, protests by business community and what not. However, there is no doubt that Pakistanis are witnessing a real effort on part of government to overcome the crisis despite its rising incidences.
Pakistan is fighting the war against coronavirus at various fronts. The economic front is already been effectively covered by Federal government in form of various stimulus packages for businesses, daily wagers and now jobless.
Moreover, the federal government and provincial government have announced financial packages for our frontline heroes including doctors, paramedics, traffic police, and City police and media personnel.
How Pakistan is addressing shortage of Key Medical Equipment
Apart from financial crisis, the most significant issue that Pakistan today faced was of medical equipment to deal with the virus. Pakistan has been getting medical equipment including N95 masks, ventilators and PPEs from China. However, since the start of Pandemic, Ministry of Science and Technology has been working with Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) and several medical institutions to locally develop all necessary medical equipment.
Local Production of Masks and Testing Kits
The textile sector in Faisalabad has been extensively engaged with Ministry of Science and technology to manufacture local protective gear and masks for doctors in Pakistan. Defence Science and Technology Organization (DESTO) Pakistan has now developed its own N95 masks that are approved by WHO. The price for locally manufactured N95 is around 10% of imported ones. NUST University has a great contributors in providing their engineering services for ventilators as well as disinfectant machines. Moreover, NUST is developing Pakistan’s own coronavirus testing kit that will increase local tests by several times.
Locally Manufactured Ventilators
PEC received around 50 proposals for prototypes of ventilators out of which seven types of ventilators were approved and are in process of building. The cost of locally manufactured ventilators is estimated to be one-third of imported ventilators.
Some of the ventilators include Nuvent by NUTECH, Dignous by DIC, Umbilizer, Corvent by Pakistan Ordinance Factory, PakVent-1 by DESTO, NED Ventilator and VenteLight by PAF. The engineers from universities like NUST, NED, UET are already working with health ministry of Pakistan to repair and make already available ventilators functional in the country.
Fawad Chaudhry has requested Federal government to increase military and civil collaboration on use of technology to speed up manufacturing of medical equipment. Already Ministry of Defence Production is contributing around 400,000 liters of sanitizers, high quality masks, 500 PPEs per day to National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). Ministry of Defence is also set to provide walk through gates, ventilators and thermal cameras to NDMA soon.