The coronavirus pandemic has created an unprecedented challenge to the world and has really tested the health care system of countries.
Ironically though, the pandemic is also bringing out the ingenuity in resourceful individuals; and creative minds in Ghana are no exception.
Even though the World Health Organization has categorized Ghana as one of ten countries driving the spread of the coronavirus on the African continent, that has not stopped inventors in the country from taking little but giant steps to get a hang on the pandemic.
In April, weeks after the country recorded its first two Covid-19 cases, a young entrepreneur in the Asante region invented a touchless solar-powered hand washing machine.
A little step but giant leap for humanity. That invention got the world talking and justifiably so.
Creative minds continue to explore smart ways of getting around the virus in work places as the world gradually adjust to the new normal.
A team of health workers at the Dental unit at the Greater Accra Hospital, are the latest to come up with an appropriate technology designed to cut back on the risk of getting exposed and infected with coronavirus by inhaling aerosol of clients who undergo cleaning and filling.
Dental services like cleaning and filling, a procedure that generates a lot of aerosol, was suspended back in March after Ghana reported cases of Covid-19, leaving a long queue of clients in need dental care.
For those unfortunate clients, the pressing need for dental care has to be put on ice.
The need for their service however provoked the thought of getting around the virus.
Head of Oral Health at the Ghana Health Service, Dr Maxwell Adjei, and his team of dentists after initial failed attempts, created the ‘ aerosol extractor ‘.
The technology is built to simultaneously suck up aerosol, as it’s generated during dental procedure.
Nations across the globe have adopted different approaches to mitigate the devastation the world has been subjected to since the first coronavirus case was recorded in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
“The procedure generates (cleaning and filling) a lot of aerosol. Previously, it will just come out of the patient’s mouth, accumulating in the surgical environment risking everyone else who is not in a face mask in a surgical environment.”
Having suspended service delivery at the unit since March because of the existential threat posed by aerosol accumulation, Dr Adjei said that provoked the thought of urgent coming-back to serve the people
“As a unit at the Ridge dental department, we decided to see how well we can get rid of the aerosol that is generated in the surgical environment that is why we came up with this aerosol extractor that sucks the aerosol that is being generated with the dental procedure that we do in the surgery.”
Dr Adjei expressed hope that the appropriate technology will cut back on the risk in the working environment.
“This we hope will give us psychological support to the dental fraternity to get gradually back to work”.
The team of health professionals and the Ghana Health Service are however working to improve the technology.
Speaking in a separate interview, Director of Institutional care at the Ghana Health Service, Dr Samuel Kaba Akoriyea said, “we are looking at improvement because in life you got to improve all the time and secondly how would we extend this service to all the dental units within the country within Ghana Health Service and the nation as a whole for us to be able to resume procedures that were considered to be highly dangerous.”
The current aerosol extractor is designed to take care of clients who successfully go through the triage process at the facility without showing any sign of coronavirus.
However, steps are currently being taken to make it adaptable for clients who have even tested positive for the virus.
The technology, which is the first of its kind on the African continent is made out of a large flexible tubing, extractor motor, a filtering system, and an aluminum tubing.
It cost the inventors some GH¢3, 000.00 to produce.
Upscaling it to furnish other health facilities across the country and possibly the African continent will require some funding if this mitigation effort is to be impactful.