Low-cost ventilators to save Indian lives

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Low-cost ventilators to save Indian lives

Monday, 18 May 2020 | Kumar Chellappan | KOCHI

Even before the indigenously designed and developed Light Combat Aircraft (TEJAS) became fully operational and proved its capability, a spin off technology derived from the fighter aircraft has started  saving many lives in India. This has come at a time when the country was facing shortage of quality critical care medical ventilators in Intensive Care Units in its hospitals.

An air delivery system (ADS) developed by the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) for the pilots of the LCA turned out to be the life saver for thousands of coronavirus patients. But the end result is the culmination of years long painstaking  research undertaken by various institutions like PSG College of Technology, Pricol (a Coimbatore based engineering manufacturer ) and Skanray, a Bangalore based healthcare technology company.

Dr Jagadish J Hiremath, a medical doctor with dreams of making CCMV  available to the poor section of the society played a crucial role of the bridge between the engineering and    medical fraternities and the end result turned out to be a win-win situation for all.

An ordinary CCMV would cost anything between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 15 lakh. Then there is the high maintenance cost of  the instrument which could be done only by professional engineers. “But the CCMV designed and built by Skanray making use of the Bharat Electricals Ltd (BEL)  technology succeeded in bringing down the cost considerably. This ventilator costs less than a lakh rupees. It’s a robust ventilator system and the post-production clinical trials are underway. The initial results are encouraging and we will soon transform the same into a super intelligent ventilator,” said Dr Hiremath speaking to The Pioneer over telephone even as he was evaluating the performance of the machine in the ICU of his research clinic.

He said India was 100 years behind the technology of the CCMV when the research in the field began in 2010. “Now we have narrowed down the technical difference to just 20 years. In another five years, we will have our own super intelligent ventilator,” said Dr Hiremath, a MD in anesthesiology with specialisation in cardiac transplant anesthesia.

The success story of the indigenously developed CCMV comes immediately after the offer by US President Trump that he would offer ventilators to  India in this hour of crisis. “Skanray has the capability to manufacture 30,000 CCMV per month as on date. Though the system is not a complete one like the products manufactured in foreign countries, these ventilators meet all our requirements and in the course of time, we can equip all primary health centres in the country with these easy to operate and maintain CCMVs,” said Dr Hiremath.

According to a scientist involved in the team that developed the Skanray CCMV, it is an advanced version of Pricol ventilator with ICU ventilator design philosophy incorporated in it. “Dr Hiremath had learnt the engineering and technology behind the CCMV which helped the engineers to understand the requirements the medical fraternity expect in a system like this,” said a  colleague of the anesthesia specialist. India could proudly tell the world that the country has enough stock of CCMVs and we can even export a few thousands at any time. By the end of May, Skanray  would hand over 30,000 CCMV to Govt of India.

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