Plug and Breathe
Seeing people queue for life-support equipment at the All India Institute for Medical Science in Delhi in 2016 convinced Vaish and Agrawal that there was an acute need for a cheap and portable ventilator.
“ICU care is very expensive. In the private sector, even the richest of rich can’t afford it for a long time,” said Vaish.
They avoided expensive imported parts to keep the cost low, Agrawal added.
With its cash-starved health system, India has only around 40,000 ventilators, and experts who have seen the coronavirus crisis explode in Europe have warned this could become a catastrophic shortage for India.
R.V. Asokan, secretary general of the Indian Medical Association, said the AgVa portable ventilator was the kind of innovation needed to fill health gaps.
“It is a basic model which will serve in the current scenario as it is a straightforward oxygenation device,” said Asokan, who added that it would help COVID-19 patients but not those who have had transplants and other major surgeries.
Sunita Sharma, whose son was hospitalized for five years with a crippling nerve condition, was given one of the machines for free.
“My husband and I had to take turns to stay with him at the hospital and that affected our lives,” Sharma told AFP.
“I was devastated when the doctors told me my son would have to spend the rest of his life on a ventilator bed.
“At least now I can stay home to take care of him and the rest of the household.”
PICTURES BY PRAKASH SINGH/afp