A fresh breath of relief inside PPEs, masks


Chipping in their technical expertise to boost efforts to contain the COV- ID-19 pandemic, Suman Paudel and Akrit Dhungel from Kaicho Group – an innovation dream team based in Kathmandu – have developed a micro-ventilator named ‘Swash’. It is a portable breathing assistant to support healthcare professionals wearing PPE and masks.

Created at around Rs 7,000 per piece, the device is currently being used by frontline workers in the Seti Provincial Hospital, Dhangadi.

The duo first made five pieces of the device as a prototype, which have now proven to be successful.

How did the idea emerge? Paudel who is staying in the Seti Provincial Hospital quarters with his sister, a staff there, saw the “pitiful situation of frontline workers in the COVID ward”.

“They were all lying on the floors outside the ward due to suffocation and tiredness. It’s difficult to wear PPE and mask for long hours but they have to. So, I thought to develop a device that would allow them to inhale fresh air,” he shared.

After four days of research and work, Paudel with Dhungel’s support succeeded in developing the device. “The staff who would come outside of the ward within two hours due to suffocation are now staying inside the COVID ward for four to five hours. It has eased their harsh working condition,” he said.

Paudel, a student of electrical engineering, explaining the functioning process of the device, informed, “This device pumps air and purifies it through different layers. This filtered fresh air is finally circulated to the mask which is connected to the device via a surgical suction pipe.”

The device looks like an identity card – it is compressed by a motor with multi-layered filtering set at a particular speed and time.

The device runs on a chargeable battery which “once fully charged can run up to four hours”.

With a motive to take their innovation to wider frontline workers, they “have made the concept, design and building process an open source. If anyone likes to make one such device, they can simply use the design module and make one” as per Paudel.

He also mentioned that the design is being currently used by innovators from Birtanagar, Butwal, Surkhet and other places to help frontline workers in their respective areas.

Paudel’s Kaicho Group has also developed Air Flower, being used by patients with difficulty in breathing to ease the breathing process; PCR booths; and a COVID-19 Report Management System, which provides the PCR reports via SMS and via scanning the QR code. This system was developed to avoid physical presence of patients at hospitals to get their results.

Sharing the motivation behind these innovations, Paudel said, “Innovation should not always be focussed on monetary returns.

It should be focussed on solving problems. Our nation is passing through a serious situation and if our innovation can make a difference, then why not do it?” If anyone is wants to join the group with ideas that can make a difference, “the door of Kaicho Group is always open. Let’s unite to tackle the situation as innovation is the need of the time,” he urged.

Suman Paudel

Suman Paudel

Suman Paudel

A version of this article appears in the print on May 5, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.

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