By Kingsley Omonobi
The Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria, DICON, has produced a low-cost mechanical ventilator— DICOVENT— capable of using electricity and rechargeable batteries, if need be, to help in the treatment of coronavirus patients.
Also produced by DICON, using 100 percent local materials, are Personnel Protective Equipment, PPEs, for health workers in the front lines and high-quality hand sanitisers known as DICOSANZ.
These breakthroughs were made known on Monday in Abuja by a joint media briefing addressed by the Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche and the Director-General, DICON, Major-General Victor Ezugwu.
According to Major-General Ezugwu, DICON has the capacity to produce 100 of the ventilators in a month, and mass-produce PPEs and hand sanitisers when required.
While noting that Kaduna State government, for instance, has ordered for thousands of PPEs, for its healthcare practitioners, the DICON boss said the organisation has the capacity, professional expertise and know-how to produce any of the items when needed.
Furthermore, General Ezugwu disclosed that the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, headed by Mr. Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, and the Minister of Health, Professor Ehanire, during a visit, witnessed a physical presentation of the efficacy of the ventilators and PPEs.
Consequently, the Presidential Task Force has directed DICON to forward a proposal to it, for partnership in the mass production of the COVID-19 ventilators and PPEs for use at isolation and treatment centres.
He pointed out that initially, there were challenges in procuring the local content materials for the production of the items, but that DICON was able to overcome the challenges in Kaduna and from Lagos State.
On his part, Major-General John Enenche disclosed that the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, had directed all military formations across the country and those in theatres of operation to liaise with DICON for the procurement of the items as required.
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Answering a question as to how bandits killed 47 people in Katsina state on Sunday, when the military said its troops, backed by air strikes, killed some bandits in the state, Gen Enenche noted that while the location of the attacks were different, that of Sunday occurred following the bandits’ search for food.
His words: “What happened, and which was confirmed by the Police, is that palliatives were shared to the people of the three communities. After sharing, bandits attacked the villages demanding for the foodstuffs and other palliative, which the villagers refused to give.
“That is why they resorted to killing the villagers and taking away the foodstuff and other items.”
On reports that Shekau and Boko Haram commanders were making moves and contacting international NGOs to seek for a ceasefire, following the impending offensive by the Nigerian military to wipe them out, the Coordinator said they were free to approach anybody to seek ceasefire.
But he noted that the Nigerian Armed Forces were focused on achieving the objective, which is to wipe out Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists from Nigeria, adding that there was no going back.
Earlier, in an update on the preparedness of the military to help in the fight against COVID-19, Enenche said: “The devastating pandemic of COVID-19 has brought a lot of hardship, agony and pains across the globe.
“The national response to the fight against this virus is not without challenges, ranging from a thorough understanding of the disease to the astronomically high demand for personal protective equipment, mechanical ventilators and other materials to manage the pandemic.
“Therefore, in response to the CDS directive to the Armed Forces to articulate strategic intervention to support the FGN fight against the COVID 19 pandemic, the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria, DICON, has taken the lead among others, to provide a local content-driven response to address the shortage of PPE in Nigeria.
“In addition to its primary responsibility to produce defence equipment, DICON has succeeded in diversifying its human, equipment, machinery as well as research and development capacity, to support a much-needed strategic intervention to cushion the effects of the highly-dreaded COVID-19 in the country.
“Consequently, DICON, under the visionary leadership and result-oriented leadership of Major-General Victor Ezugwu, has mobilised its management and staff to research, develop and produce several COVID-19 essential and lifesaving equipment.
“First is the production of over 1,500 dozens of DICSANZ, a high-quality hand sanitiser produced under very strict environmental conditions, requested by the COAS, Lt. Gen TY Buratai, for supply to troops of the Nigerian Army. This product is at the last stage of NAFDAC registration in line with extant due diligence provisions.
“Furthermore, DICON has responded to the directive by Minister of Defence Maj-Gen Bashir Magashi (rtd) for the Armed Forces to support the indigenous capacity of Nigeria, to support medical workers by producing thousands of high quality non permeable Personal Protective Equipment kit.
“Each unit of these kits consists of standardized gowns, face shield and nose masks. They are currently being produced in large quantities for use by Kaduna State Government and other national stakeholders.
“In addition to these, DICON engineers, consultants and medical teams have successfully produced a digital mechanical ventilator known as DICOVENT. The newly designed low-cost machine is a simple mechanical ventilator that can deliver positive pressured ventilation using a volume-controlled ventilation, VCV, system.
“The ventilator has undergone thorough scrutiny and assessment by specialists from top ranging hospitals and experts in the country, including Cedar Crest Hospital Abuja, 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna, among others.
“It is important to mention that while DICOVENT may not be able to meet the high demands of critical patients, it can be used for Continuous Mandatory Ventilation, CMV, and Intermittent Positive Pressure Ventilation, IPPV. It can also be used for invasive ventilation and non-invasive ventilation, using an endotracheal tube and mask respectively.
“Suffice it to note that these inventions by DICON, including those by other military institutions of the Nigerian Army, Navy and Air Force as well as Nigerian Defence Academy, have given bright hope to Nigeria healthcare infrastructure on the fight against COVID-19.
“Let me, at this juncture, inform you that the efforts of DICON in producing these array of COVID-19 equipment has been assessed, commended and approved by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Mr. Boss Mustapha, the Minister of Health, Professor Osagie Ehanire, and Permanent Secretary, General Service Office, GSO, Sir Olusegun Adekunle.
“As DICON and other military institutions continue their drive to support our national effort to defeat COVID-19, the CDS hereby urge Federal and state governments to patronise the local content initiative of the Armed Forces of Nigeria.
He has, therefore, directed all the Armed Forces to liaise with DICON for mass production of all prototypes of COVID-19 PPEs for national application.”