Afghan BMET Graduates Construct a Ventilator to Fight Covid-19

Two graduates of Biomedical Equipment Technology (BMET) Associate Degree program at Kabul University Medical School (KUMS), Faisal Osmany and Matiullah Firozi, designed and constructed a low-cost ventilator using locally available materials.  At the public event introducing the ventilator Eng. Abdul Tawab Balakarzai (far right in photo), the Acting Minister of Higher Education, congratulated the BMET team on their accomplishment and expressed his appreciation to the KUMS leadership for their contributions in the fight against the Covid-19 virus.

 

More recently, H.E. President Ghani and the Afghan Cabinet welcomed the innovation by the BMET team and approved awarding them certificates of appreciation in recognition of their tremendous achievement.

 

Faisal Osmany said that unlike the standard ventilators with a digital display, the analog technology is used in this device for accessibility of materials in the local market, but its functionality is the same as the standard device.  Matiullah Firozi added that it took a month to design and manufacture the first ventilator, but now, we can produce a ventilator in three-days.

 

The device cost about 30,000 Afghanis ($400) compared to prices as high as US$30,000 in international markets. According to the Head of BMET College at KUMS, the ventilator was checked and endorsed by experts from the Ministry of Public Health and tested on patients at Ali Abad Teaching Hospital.

 

The BMET associate degree program is one of five associate degree programs established as part of the USAID’s University support and Workforce Development Program (USWDP).  As part of its role in USWDP, CIE was responsible for creating and managing a series of partnerships between US community colleges and Afghan counterparts to design, create and implement the new associate degrees.  The BMET program resulted from a partnership between KUMS and Spokane Community College (SCC) in the USA which has a similar program.  SCC provided technical support and faculty development in support of the new program. 

 

The BMET associate degree program is intended to provide relevant, market-oriented technical and professional education for a diverse body of students, such as high school graduates, current nonprofessional medical technicians, and other medical employees. By the completion of the degree program, students acquire skills in installation, inspection, calibration, servicing, and repairing medical equipment

 

The first students in the BMET program graduated in 2018 and all together forty students in the first and second cohorts have graduated – nine of them females.  Currently, 52 students (including 10 females) from cohorts 3 and 4 are enrolled in the program.

 

The Associate Degrees are new to higher education in Afghanistan and are still the subject of some controversy, although they have been highly successful in producing graduates who easily find employment. The programs train students in badly needed, mid-level technical skills. The accomplishment of these two graduates has raised the visibility of one of the programs to the highest national level which will hopefully provide additional support for the eventual national acceptance of the Associate Degree programs. [5-20]

 

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