In furtherance of the drive to provide indigenous solutions to tackle the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has unveiled 2 emergency ventilators produced by a Team of Researchers from the Air Force Research and Development Centre (AFRDC) and Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) Kaduna, in partnership with the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria. The emergency ventilators, tagged ‘NAF E-Vents’, were unveiled today, 27 May 2020, by the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, in Kaduna.
Before today’s unveiling ceremony, the prototype E-Vents had been subjected to successful animal testing using both canine and porcine test subjects The objective of the animal testing was to demonstrate the capacity of the Ventilators to support recovery of patients with respiratory diseases, including Acute Lung Injury and Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. The tests were also necessary to validate the effectiveness of the ‘Assist Ventilation Mode’, where the ventilator detects a breath from a patient being treated and synchronizes the equipment with the patient's breathing. The NAF E-Vents, which are intended for use when conventional invasive respiratory support resources have been exhausted, were found to deliver very satisfactory performance in air volume control and assist control modes and are now ready for human testing and further certification by relevant agencies.
Speaking during the unveiling ceremony, the CAS, who was represented by the NAF Chief of Standards and Evaluation (COSE), Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Remigius Ekeh, stated that the devastating effects of the COVID-19 require that ingenious and proactive steps be taken in order to protect lives and avert any form of national tragedy. He noted that the NAF had continued to vigorously pursue a robust and result-oriented Research and Development (R&D) policy with emphasis on the provision of indigenous technological solutions. In this regard, he said, the NAF had engaged in strategic partnerships with some Ministries, Departments and Agencies so as to reduce dependence on other nations. “Our modest efforts have yielded results and positively impacted our operations”, the CAS added.
The CAS stated that in the quest to contribute towards self-reliance in the battle against COVID-19, a team, comprising NAF personnel and researchers from partner institutions, was convened to research into the production of the emergency ventilators. He noted that the team commenced work in early April 2020 and within 3 weeks had developed 2 prototypes. According to him, “having seen the progress made, it became necessary for the prototypes to undergo animal testing to ascertain their capacity for use on patients with respiratory illness. Accordingly, the NAF partnered with the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, ABU to test the effectiveness of the Ventilators using a dog and a pig as test subjects. I am glad to note that the tests were successfully completed and the equipment is now ready for human testing and certification by relevant agencies”. He however emphasized that private sector investment would be required for mass production of the ventilators.
The CAS also noted that the unveiling ceremony was a further demonstration of his resolve to ensure that NAF continues to make significant contribution to the development of the Country and thus become an Air Force that is the pride of every Nigerian. He assured that the Service would continue to invest in R&D to promote, enhance and optimize indigenous innovations and technologies for national development. The CAS congratulated the NAF Standards and Evaluation Branch as well as the R&D Team for the successful production of the functional ventilators. He also thanked the management and staff of ABU, Zaria for the support offered towards the completion of the project, noting that the partnership would continue to wax stronger to enhance the development of the Country.
Earlier in his welcome address, the NAF Director of R&D, AVM Paul Jemitola, stated that the NAF had made giant strides in the area of R&D under the visionary leadership of the CAS to the extent that R&D had become the norm in the Service. “By investing in high quality training of personnel, innovative approaches to issues and encouraging out-of-the-box thinking, a lot of solutions to operational challenges in the NAF have been locally developed through R&D thereby saving huge resources,” he said. According to him, the culture of creativity engendered by the CAS is in line with his Vision of self-reliance and self-sustenance in defence and other aspects of national life, especially at a time like this when all hands are on deck to confront the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The highlight of the event was a presentation/demonstration of the NAF E-Vents by the Leader of the NAF R&D Team, Group Captain Osichinaka Ubadike, where he gave details of the development process as well as additional highlights of the animal testing conducted at ABU Zaria.
Present at the unveiling ceremony were the representative of the Vice Chancellor ABU, the Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University, Professor Jacob Kwaga; the Commandant AFIT, AVM Abdulganiyu Olabisi, as well as Commanders of co-located NAF Units in Kaduna and other senior officials from ABU Zaria.