In the fourth part of our series ‘Corona Heroes’, meet Prashant Gade. He has been making affordable prosthetic arms, but he recently designed a ventilator that costs just Rs 30-35,000
Prashant Gade, 28, is an engineer by profession and the founder Inali Foundation, a Madhya Pradesh-based organisation that provides affordable prosthetic arms to the needy. However, when the coronavirus pandemic struck the country, Prashant stepped up to do his bit.
He has been working on making a low-cost ventilator — a medical device that helps patients to breathe in case of an emergency – and has successfully made a ventilator worth Rs 30-35,000 as against the regular ventilators that are being used in hospitals and cost a whopping Rs 1.25-20 lakh. Which means the ventilator that he has designed costs nearly 25% less than those available in the market.
Ventilators have emerged as a crucial weapon in this fight against the novel coronavirus. The virus affects the respiratory system of those who test positive. In a worst-case scenario, these patients are required to be put on a ventilator. However, as per the Union Health Ministry, the public healthcare centres in India have only 8,432 ventilators, whereas the private clinics in the country have a total of 40,000 ventilators.
Prashant said: “India needs about a million ventilators as of now. But, we have only 20,000-40,000 ventilators in our country. We only have a few companies that are making them. Most of the ventilators are imported from China and Germany.”
On March 24, in a meeting chaired by Ravinder, Joint Secretary, Technical Committee for Ventilators, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPITT), the government asked device-makers in India to collate information about the available stock of ventilators in the country by April 1 and to manufacture additional machines. This triggered a race between the domestic manufacturers to design low-cost ventilators.
“Everyone wants to be first in the race. Many are making these ventilators to be in the news. I don’t think that is the right way because you are dealing with someone’s life. If not properly manufactured, this device can take the life of a person. One most follow proper guidelines, but I am not sure if most of the manufacturers are following these,” said Prashant.
He added that his company has followed the World Health Organisation’s guidelines while making a low-cost ventilator. “Considering that these ventilators could be carried in an ambulance, we have made these portable. These can be easily transported to any part of the country,” said Prashant, who has been manufacturing affordable prosthetic or artificial arms for over 4-5 years now.
What sets him apart is the fact that he has given more than 2,000 prosthetic arms for free. The standard cost of these in the market is Rs 24 lakh. In 2018-19, Prashant was one of the 12 social innovators who received the Social Innovation Award from the Infosys Foundation. He has also been awarded James Dyson Awards for innovating prosthetic arms that have changed the lives of many differently-abled people.
So, when he designed the ventilator, he didn’t deviate from his mantra of innovating something affordable. He also made sure to include the parameters suggested by doctors that would come handy in treating corona patients.
Prashant said: “There are three key parameters. Firstly, the amount of air pressure that is given to a patient, should be calculated. Using our device, the doctors can keep the pressure in check. If the pressure is more than required, there is a risk that the device can damage the lungs. There is an alarm in our device that would alert doctors so that they can quickly check and fix the settings. Similarly, there are sensors that check the amount of air volume that is to be given to a patient. If these are not taken into consideration, the patient can lose his life. Secondly, doctors can reduce the respiratory ratio – the number of strokes given to a patient, and lastly, feedbacks received from the doctors and patients is crucial. We have got feedback from Infosys, Dassault Systemes and 3Dexperience lab, companies that are helping in making these ventilators.”
Prashnat has successfully made a prototype of the device.
Talking about the challenges, he said: “Because of the lockdown, we are not able to source raw materials required to make these ventilators. Also, there is no proper guideline from the government regarding medical approval. Once that gets sorted, we will be able to manufacture around 100-200 such ventilators within 15 days.”
He added: “If we tie-up with the Indian Railways, we are thinking of donating 100 ventilators to them because these are the places where these ventilators would be more helpful.”
Read the first part of the series, Corona Heroes, here
Read the second part of the series, Corona Heroes, here
Read the third part of the series, Corona Heroes, here