Why South Africans should not buy their own ventilators

Many South Africans worry about the capacity of hospitals and clinics.

On July 9, the Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize himself caveat Regarding the possibility of severe COVID-19 beds in the country before the beginning of August.

The number of ventilators available in the healthcare system is another concern.

In severe cases, the effects of the virus can hinder lung function, which means that patients may need respiratory assistance provided by mechanical medical ventilator.

In a speech to Congress on April 10, Dr. Amban Pillay, then Acting Director-General of the Department of Health, said that the country has an estimated 3,216 ventilators, of which 2,105 are in the private sector.

At the peak of the virus in September, it is estimated that 7,000 ventilators will be needed, of which the government will have to purchase an additional 1,223 ventilators for the public sector, while the remaining shortage will be obtained by the private sector.

Current concerns about the possible shortage of these equipment in medical institutions may lead some people to try to buy medical ventilators for their own use.

However, Philips, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of in- and out-of-hospital breathing solutions, says that this solution is not as feasible as some people think.

Complex medical equipment

Philips production Various ventilators And breathing equipment, including the recently launched Respironics E30 ventilator, which is a scaled-down emergency equipment designed for use in places where there is no necessary life support system.

A spokesperson for the company said that it is important to understand that ventilators-even those used in the home environment-cannot be purchased over-the-counter or over-the-counter.

Philips explained that even qualified medical staff need to receive additional training on the use of ventilators.

Philips pointed out: “Although ventilators look simple because they can help patients breathe by helping the lungs to inhale and exhale air, they are complex medical devices.”

The company said: “In addition to the medical qualifications required to treat patients, doctors and clinicians have also received in-depth training in the use of ventilators.”

It explained that because each respiratory disease or condition is different, they ask clinicians to explain the specific symptoms and indicators of the patient in order to prescribe the correct treatment.

“Therefore, all applications of ventilators must be guided by clinicians; prescriptions must be issued for patients, and set according to the patient’s condition, with unique indicators; and monitored by clinicians to respond to changes in each patient’s condition. Like any other disease,” Philips said.

Most people can’t afford it

Another reason why it is not advisable to try to buy a ventilator for private household use without the necessary trained personnel is the huge cost of the equipment.

According to the information of the medical device manufacturer MedtronicThe price of ventilators ranges from $5,000 [R82,900] to $50,000 [R829,000].

The price of high-end ventilator used in hospital intensive care unit [ICU] is usually no less than $25,000 [R414,500].

According to Washington postOnly about 20% of symptomatic COVID-19 patients need to be hospitalized, and about 5% of patients end up in ICU.

As of July 24, only 0.1% of confirmed COVID-19 cases in South Africa received ICU treatment. Obviously, most people who fell ill with COVID-19 do not need ventilator support.

Therefore, it is illogical to spend such a large sum of money on equipment that the average patient most likely does not need.

In addition, the National Ventilator Project has begun production of 20,000 non-invasive CPAP ventilators.

These can provide breathing assistance for patients with severe symptoms, and the health system’s focus is to purchase more complex and invasive ventilators to supplement the equipment currently used in critical cases.

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