Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital (SKMTH) management has applauded the University of Botswana for heeding the call to localize the production and provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for COVID-19 frontline health workers.
SKMTH Commissioning Manager, Dr Thato Moumakwa, said on behalf of management, staff and the frontline health workers, they were happy to receive the equipment particularly at a time when the global supply chain was likely to be strained due to the high demand precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr Moumakwa was speaking at the handing over of 100 face shields to SKMTH by the University of Botswana on April 21, 2020.
He said the equipment would go a long way in helping to protect and minimize inherent risks that frontline health workers were exposed to in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. He noted that it was amazing how at such short notice the University of Botswana was able to respond positively to government’s call to come up with mitigation measures against COVID-19.
Apart from providing equipment, Dr Moumakwa said the University of Botswana had availed clinical professional staff to assist in the care of COVID-19 patients currently admitted to SKMTH. He said the staff had shown selflessness in serving the nation during this difficult period.
“This is a demonstration of how we can get far by working together. It is amazing and commendable how much we managed to achieve together in such a short period of time,” said Dr Moumakwa.
He added that it was pleasing and commendable for the University of Botswana to have found it necessary to provide frontline health staff, who were often forgotten, with PPE.
Dr Moumakwa said it was, therefore, imperative for local institutions such as the University of Botswana as well as SKMTH and others to explore how best to produce and supply PPE locally should the global supply chain experience a crisis.
Earlier on, Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Professor Oathokwa Nkomazana, had highlighted the central role a public institution such as the University of Botswana was expected to play during such difficult periods.
Professor Nkomazana said the University of Botswana felt compelled to produce the face shields and other devices as part of its quest to remain relevant and socially accountable to societal needs.
Dr Robert Batane from the Faculty of Engineering and Technology said they collaborated with the Faculty of Medicine to produce the face shields. Dr Batane explained that the immediate response was to produce four devices being a face shield, face mask, ventilation hood and ventilator which were at different stages of production.
Meanwhile, the material used for the face shield mainly comprises an acrylic band, transparent film (OHP acetate sheet), two-way tape and an elastic string. The designers made use of locally available material.
It is relatively cheaper; one size fits all, very light in weight and seats comfortably on the face of the user. Additionally, it can be used several times as long as it is sterilized.