UK funding for the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF is helping them work with governments to identify requirements and ensure supplies reach those in need, including the critical medical equipment for oxygen therapy. Ventilators are one part of a wider oxygen therapy package, as illustrated in the WHO emergency global supply chain catalogue.
Since mid-March, DFID’s Frontier Technologies Hub has been leading a project called COVIDaction in collaboration with the UCL Institute of Healthcare Engineering, to identify frugal innovation in a range of COVID-19 areas, which included an early focus on ventilators and oxygen therapy, designed for emerging markets that can be used globally in the fight against COVID-19. Designs used in resource constrained environments could be adapted for rapid manufacturing because they are often easier and cheaper to build and are often designed to be operated without highly specialist medical training. This initial work has fed into the UK Ventilator Challenge and has also highlighted the importance that any ventilators used or manufactured locally for low resource developing countries healthcare systems, are proven as safe and effective for use for COVID-19 patients and meet the most recent WHO specifications and relevant medical device regulatory approvals.