Philippine-made ventilators set for trials

MANILA, Philippines, June 12 ------ A locally developed ventilator for adults has passed research, development and prototyping and is now set for clinical trial, Science Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said yesterday. The ventilator, developed by the Department of Science and Technology’s Metals Industry Research and Development Center (DOST-MIRDC) and its Advanced Mechatronics, Robotics and Industrial Automation Laboratory (AMERIAL) Project team, will most likely be tested at the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital.

The MIRDC-AMERIAL Group worked with the Breath of Life Foundation on the mechanical and electronics engineering part in developing the “OstreaVent” medical ventilator. The Ostreavent is to undergo safety testing and performance verification by third party company MedEquip this week, after which the ventilator will undergo clinical trials. Dela Peña expressed pride in the DOST’s research and development achievement.

“I am very happy. In some of these, DOST’s involvement is only in certain phases of development and testing,” he said. Dela Peña last year called on medical scientists and researchers to join heads with engineers to locally develop critical biomedical devices much needed in hospitals and medical facilities.He said the DOST was keen on establishing a biomedical device development and manufacturing ecosystem in the country where Filipino medical scientists and researchers will work closely with engineers.

Dela Peña, in his keynote speech at the International Conference on Health Research and Industry on March 4 last year, stressed that the Philippines is currently importing one of the most basic medical devices which is standard equipment in intensive care units in hospitals – a ventilator. “In our hospitals, particularly in intensive care units, most of you will see a ventilator. It provides ICU patients with oxygen when they are unable to breathe on their own. Without ventilators, the human lungs will not be able to breathe, resulting in respiratory failure,” Dela Peña said.

“A majority or 50 percent of patients need a ventilator, and the ideal setup is a 1:1 ventilator ratio per patient,” he said. “In many developing countries like ours, majority of government tertiary hospitals only have one ventilator for every 10 ICU beds because current standard ventilators cost around P3 to P5 million,” the DOST chief said. He noted that the country is highly dependent on biomedical device imports and prices increase because of the market chain and sales distributors. Through the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, the DOST is pursuing the Biomedical Engineering and Health Technologies program that encourages collaboration among state universities and colleges as well as higher educational institutions to locally develop biomedical devices and equipment.