With the advent of this COVID-19 pandemic in Pakistan, a small group of engineers started preparing the technological response of this nation with limited resources on volunteer basis. One key attempt was to manufacture “low cost ventilators” for the country. An estimated 3,000 ventilators were present in Pakistan as of March, 2020, for a population of more than 200 million people. At a time when Pakistan did not manufacture any ventilators, this started off as a disparate and isolated effort, but soon gathered steam and snowballed into an opensource ventilator for Pakistan project named “OpenVentPk”.
Two parallel efforts began for this cause: First one in Karachi by Asst. Prof. Muhammad Umair Arif from Bahria University Karachi along with Dr. Abid Kareem from Usman Institute of technology, while the second one in Islamabad headed by Dr. Bilal Siddiqui, former chief engineer at PAC Kamra. Dr. Bilal Siddiqui was also heading another initiative named Pakistan Against Corona- Volunteers (PAC-V) who developed several other PPEs during this time. The two groups rapidly grew with more than 50 people from various background and eventually merged their efforts into OpenVentPk.
The Open-Source Spirit
In the span of a few days, starting on 15th of March 2020, literally hundreds of engineers, medics, programmers and manufacturers combined forces in the open-source spirit to serve the suffering humanity. The authors claim no credit and have freely transferred all rights to replicate, improve, make and provide to the world. We are compatriots of humanity and believe in the fundamental right to life and happiness without recourse to profiteering.
OpenVentPk is archived at GitHub. When we started, we were perhaps the only team working on ventilators in the country. In a meeting called by the engineering council (PEC) on the 24th of March, there were six teams (including two existing products patented in the USPTO). In another week, the initiative we took had mushroomed to 40 teams nationwide. While we wholeheartedly welcome this outpouring of engineering vigor, we are happy to be precursors of this rapid development, and readily incorporate all open-source projects on ventilators in the country that have joined forces with us.
OpenVentPk is the only open source ventilator project in Pakistan which has a serious team of engineers, medical practitioners, private companies, 3D printing teams. We also have Large scale manufacturing companies onboard for mass scale production.
OpenVentPk team plans to develop the minimally clinically acceptable ventilator to be used in hospitals to confer therapeutic benefit on a patient suffering with ARDS, used in the initial care of patients requiring urgent ventilation. It is proposed these ventilators would be for short-term stabilization for a few hours, but this may be extended up to 4-days use for a patient in extremis as the bare minimum function. Ideally it would also be able to function as a broader function ventilator which could support a patient through a number of days, when more advanced ventilator support becomes necessary.
Pakistan Engineering Council has identified the bare minimum requirements to be according to the requirements set by Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) of the UK government. The guidelines published on 20th March, 2020 are entitled as “Rapidly manufactured ventilation system specifications”. A new set of requirements were put forward in the second edition (11th April, 2020) by Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) document titled Fast Track Acceptance Test Procedure for Locally Manufactured Mechanical Ventilators for ICU. Our core focus is to develop a ventilator which meets the “Mandatory requirements” set by these guidelines.
“Once open source gets good enough, competing with it would be insane”
OpenVentPk is a purely “individuals driven platform” but we would like to acknowledge the following companies who have partnered with us in different capacities to help us develop this important technology.
Join The Team
If you are an enthusiastic engineer, doctor or an industrialist, or a person who think can contribute or use this initiative to built ventilators.. for Pakistan or for any other country in the world.. we are ready to help in this time of crises.