Kohima: Amid the global coronavirus pandemic, medical supplies including ventilators and other equipment are expected to run out as the number of COVID-19 positive cases continues to rise rapidly. Finding a way out to bridge the gap, Zenwang Konyak, a 23-year-old science enthusiast from Nagaland, has developed a double supply ventilator.
Making the best use of the lockdown, Zenwang, who is currently pursuing an MSc degree from Nagaland University, has managed to set up a temporary workshop at his residence at Nangtan village under Mon district— where he has been working on the double supply ventilator for the past three weeks.
Even as educational institutions continue to remain closed, Zenwang formed a team including 17-year-old Pewang T Konyak, a Class X student of Holy Angels School in Tizit town, and 16-year-old Tingthom Konyak, a Class X student of Don Bosco School, Tizit Village, engaging themselves in various projects — including the double supply mechanical ventilator.
Speaking with EastMojo, Zenwang said: “Our innovation is called Double Supply Ventilator. It is a design to provide positive pressure to the patient in case of an emergency. To design this ventilator we took three points into consideration: presence/absence of ventilator in hospitals; oxygen tank; and bag valve mask or resuscitator”.
“Based on these points, our machines are adjusted to perform its function. In remote places where there is no access to ventilator, oxygen tank and resuscitator, our current machine comes into play. Our current machine is developed to respond to such situations where there is complete absence of these facilities,” the 23-year-old said.
He added: “If there is resuscitator then we put the resuscitator in our tank and pump air from the oxygen tank or normal air to the patient.”
Faced with the pandemic, Zenwang said that the project was brainstormed as there is shortage of ventilators in the state. “We were worried about what could be done in case of an emergency. Since we living in the villages with no access to proper hospitals nearby, the chances of getting infected may be high. And so, that drove us into solving this puzzle,” he added.
The science enthusiast said that the materials used to make the double supply ventilators included 20V DC motor, pipes, discarded electronic scraps, plywood, and 15cm large container as source, costing him around Rs 3,000. He revealed that the residents of his village helped him to acquire some materials and also assisted with some welding works. “I give the credit for this initial success to them,” he humbly said.
Due to the lockdown, desired materials required for the project could not be procured nor was a testing of the machine possible. “I haven’t reached out to any hospital because of this lockdown. But I would love to do the testing and get feedback from the doctors so that I can improve more on the machine,” he told EastMojo.
Expressing his desire to upgrade the machine, he said: “We really want to upgrade into the next model called M2 & M3. That one should be more efficient than the current one and even more reliable in case of emergencies.”
In 2018, Zenwang received the Entrepreneur Associates Innovation Fund Award (EAIF) as young scientist from the chief minister of Nagaland, along with two others. He said that his journey has been a “tremendous blessing” and his association with the Entreprenuers Associates (EA) has helped him to connect with many innovators.
Besides the double supply ventilator, Zenwang and his team also developed bamboo pedal operated sanitizer dispenser and manual operated sanitizer sprayer. They also donated the bamboo pedal sanitizer dispenser at the local quarantine centre. While people from Kohima and Dimapur districts also expressed desire to order, he said that to make the models is not a problem but the transportation is.
While he has been working with simple tools, Zenwang dreams to someday have the necessary science equipment and laboratory technologies to work on. Talking about his other works, he said that his startup company called ZenTech which is incubated under Startup Nagaland and has many projects at hand. His team in ZenTech includes Puhvo Puro (Physics) and Ketouneikho Yavio (Botany), both of whom are graduates from Kohima Science College Jotsoma.
As a science enthusiast, he revealed that he was very fond of science since childhood and realised his interest for the subject when he was in Class VII. “My interest in Science is in the way look at things differently [from a scientific perspective] to solve problems faced by society. My intentions to help the society may have helped me to study and work hard. I did well in science academically although I am not an A+ student,” he said.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases in Nagaland have also been spiking up regularly nearing a double century mark. Although most cases of COVID-19 are asymptomatic and some with mild symptoms — which do not require hospitalisation, this young science enthusiast’s effort to bridge the gap in medical supplies is praiseworthy.