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Automaker’s ‘breath of life’ to SA public hospitals

Home Business Management Finance & Investment Automaker’s ‘breath of life’ to SA public hospitals

MERCEDES-Benz South Africa (MBSA) has donated 1 000 non-invasive Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) respirator devices, in support of the Department of Health’s ongoing response to the coronavirus crisis.

Half of the devices went to hospitals in the hardest hit province, the Eastern Cape, in October. The other 500 were donated recently to the department for distribution to seven other provinces.

MBSA CEO and Executive Director Manufacturing Andreas Engling said the provision of the CPAP respirators was timely. “These devices will support and better equip public hospitals and patients to deal with potential future surges of COVID-19. During the pandemic, a priority for Mercedes-Benz South Africa has been the preservation of the health and safety of our employees and the communities in which we operate.”

The UCL-Ventura CPAP devices were originally re-engineered by a project team consisting of engineers from Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (Mercedes-AMG HPP) and University College London (UCL) as well as clinicians from University College London Hospital (UCLH). The UCL-Ventura team made the designs and manufacturing data of the CPAP device freely available to download to support the global response to COVID-19.

With the recent surge of infections, the UCL-Ventura CPAP respirator devices have proven to assist with keeping coronavirus patients with respiratory difficulties out of intensive care and also reduce the burden on public health facilities.

The CPAP respirator devices assist patients with serious respiratory problems to breathe more easily, when oxygen has proven insufficient. The CPAP devices are non-invasive and provide a constant, steady pressure to keep the lungs expanded. Hospital data has indicated that approximately 50% of patients given CPAPs have avoided the need for invasive mechanical ventilation.

With this in mind, Mercedes-Benz South Africa took the decision to roll out the UCL-Ventura CPAP respirator to support the health system in South Africa. In less than 100 hours from the initial discussions about the concept, the UCL Ventura project group advanced to the production and testing of the first prototype.

To ensure rapid manufacturing of the CPAP devices, Mercedes-AMG HPP repurposed its technology centre and reprogrammed machinery to manufacture 10 000 CPAP devices.

Additionally, to support the international fight against COVID-19, designs and manufacturing instructions were released at no cost and have since been downloaded by over 100 countries worldwide.

The CPAP devices donated to the National Department of Health have been approved by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA).

Required training on how to use the CPAP respiratory devices will be provided to all beneficiary healthcare front line staff in national, provincial tertiary, regional and district hospitals across the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, Limpopo and North West.

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