Ventipap, the route to technological independence
Although COVID-19 has been and continues to be a very harmful epidemiological factor for humanity for all its health, economic and social consequences, in some way it has some positive factors, since it has influenced the search for solutions to problems that might seem unsolvable.
Such is the case of Cuba and its need to increase the number of ventilators available in the intensive care units (ICU) of hospitals treating patients severely ill with SARS-CoV-2. The available quantity of this equipment was insufficient, practically since the start of the pandemic during the second quarter of 2020, when the shortage of health supplies was reported.
Faced with this scenario, as well as the blockade imposed by the United States, preventing the acquisition of medical supplies, the largest of the Antilles had to prepare to cope with the situation. A group of specialists, led by Ernesto Velarde Reyes MSc. (Eng), Head of the Electronics Department of the Center for Neurosciences of Cuba (CNEURO), set out to design a non-invasive respiratory support capable of providing non-invasive ventilation, built mainly from local components.
Professionals from CNEURO and the Center of Immunoassay (CIE) began developing the Ventipap, a non-invasive CPAP respiratory support system.
The non-invasive respiratory support used in Ventipap is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), whose function is to produce improvement in the patient’s oxygenation, increasing gas exchange, while keeping the airway open, thus improving diaphragmatic function.
Among its benefits are the increase of the pulmonary functional residual capacity (FRC) and the fact of being able to avoid alveolar collapse. The Ventipap system is designed to provide non-invasive CPAP respiratory support to patients with hypoxemia. It is suitable for use in the ICU and its use is restricted to adult patients with respiratory failure.
In essence, this project will provide the national health system with low-cost CPAP respiratory support, providing non-invasive ventilation for patients without need for high-end ventilators, which will in turn be freed up for use with critical patients.
In addition, according to studies carried out, Ventipap will help to avoid more than 50% of intubations, so many patients would reduce their hypoxemia with this treatment and not have to resort to invasive ventilation.
The new project will also allow the country to replace imports, extremely important in this period of the Cuban economy. At the same time it will lead to more experience in developing ventilation and respiratory support equipment, boost technological independence, and it may become an exportable item.