Air Force makes a machine, aiding people with respiratory issues | Sunday Observer

Air Force makes a machine, aiding people with respiratory issues

19 September, 2021
Heated Humidified Oxygen Therapy Machines
Heated Humidified Oxygen Therapy Machines

Since the ubiquitous and rapid spread of the Covid-19 virus, more than ever before, a considerable number of countries are facing with an enormous and growing challenge of having affordable and sustainable access to oxygen.

Oxygen plays a vital role in respiration. Covid-19 has made a tremendous pressure on the health systems around the world where the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that the hospitals in many low-to-middle income countries (LMICs) are running out of oxygen, resulting in preventable deaths.

According to the most recent statistics of the WHO, more than half a million people, living in LMICs are in need of 1.1 million cylinders of oxygen per day. In Sri- Lanka, generally, the patients who complain on respiratory issues and currently the people who are infected with Covid-19 in particular also have a need of being supplied with oxygen.

Breathing issues

Amid these circumstances, in recognising the grave need of the hour, Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF), under the supervision and guidance of its commander Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana is involved with a project where Heated Humidified Oxygen Therapy (HHOT) Machines are manufactured. The machine can deliver a respiratory gas flow volume sufficient to meet or exceed the patient's inspiratory flow rate. The machine benefits the people with acute and chronic breathing issues. It is apt in the treatment of patients with severe or critical Covid-19 related complications.

Speaking to the Sunday Observer, Media Director, SLAF, Group Captain Dushan Wijesinghe, said that the concept of the manufacturing of the HHOT machine is of Vidya Jothi Dr. Bandula Vijey, an acclaimed and distinguished ambassador in the spheres of international innovations. Group Captain Wijesinghe said that Neuro-Molecular diagnostics and Neuro-Bio Bank, KDU-CARE, General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University, Prof. Ranil De Silva and Dr. Thilanka Rathnapala of the Anastasia Unit of the Lady Ridgeway hospital are the other two expert resource personnel who contribute in the project.

Dr. Rathnapala is a promising inventor who has won the first prize in the open division of a competition, held by the new inventors’ commission in 2016.

He also has taken part in the world inventors’ competition in Geneva, representing the island, Group Captain Wijesinghe said. As instructed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, every task involved with the manufacturing of the HHOT unit is entrusted upon the technologically advanced safe hand of the SLAF. The first HHOT machine, manufactured by the SLAF was handed over to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa by Air Force Commander Air Marshal Sudarshana Pathirana in May at the Presidential Secretariat.

The SLAF's project team comprises its various units where the responsibility of designing and starting the manufacturing of the structural parts of the unit fell into the hands of Group Captain Indika Wickramasinghe, former Commanding Officer of the General Engineering wing of the Air Force base, Katunayake and former project officer Squadron Leader Nishantha Pushpakumara.

Electronic circuit

Flight Lieutenant Hiroshan Bandaranayake of the Electronics and Telecommunication wing at the Air Force base Ratmalana was entrusted upon the task of designing and developing the electronic circuit which is the most crucial and critical part of the unit.

The electronic circuit reserved the IEC 60601 standard from the Electrical Department of the University of Moratuwa. IEC 60601 is widely accepted series of international standards, offered for the basic safety and essential performance of medical electrical equipment.

The mass manufacturing of this unit is being carried out under the supervision of Commanding Officer of the General Engineering Wing of the Katunayake Air force base, Group Captain Prasanka Martino. The new project manager is Squadron Leader Nimesh Abeywardana of the Directorate of General Engineering.

Flight Lieutenant Hiroshan Bandaranayake of the Electronics and Telecommunication Wing of the Air Force base, Ratmalana, is responsible for the manufacturing of the electronic circuit which comes under the Directorate of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering. The engineering officers and the technicians of the Air Force, involved in the project are guided and supervised by the medical experts of the panel.

The National Institute of Infectious Diseases (IDH), Angoda, The Ranaviru Upahara Base Hospital, Galgamuwa and the General Hospitals in Peradeniya, Kalutara, Teldeniya and Karapitiya are the recipients of HHOT machines, donated by the SLAF.

Private donors

There are several private donors that include the United Trade Association, Gampaha, Gayan Pothuhera, Director, Path Nirwana Foundation, California, Athula Eliyapura, Chairman, Raja Jewellers (Pvt) Ltd and Rajith Tennekone, President, Seth Sadhana Meth Maga Samajasathkara, Nugegoda who have also donated HHOT machines to the General Hospitals in Gampaha, Kalubowila, Ragama, Anuradhapura and Avissawella.

The HHOT machines are available at the SLAF hospitals in Katunayake, Ratmalana, Guwanpura and the Air Force Academy, Chinabay. Commander of the Air Force extended the gratitude of the SLAF to Nadun Wijesekara, Surin Gunawardene, Gohan Liyanage and M/S Metropolitan Office (Pvt) Ltd for their lavish financial contributions.

The Commander’s gratitude is also extended to Ayusha Amarakoon of the Sri Lanka Association of Midwest, the Group Coordinator facilitating the Medical Equipment and Compact Oxygen Machines to Sri Lanka from the Sri Lankan community in the United States for providing oxygen sensors for the project. All the electronic components for the second batch of 25 machines, worth around two million rupees will be donated by Ayusha Amarakoon, Group Captain Wijesinghe said.