SEATTLE, Washington — In hospitals across the world, healthcare professionals are at risk of contracting COVID-19 as they work to save their patients from the virus. Recognizing the problem, engineering students in West Africa joined the fight against COVID-19 in Senegal by developing engineering devices that will make treatment of the virus more efficient. By contributing their individual skills and talents to battling the virus, these students are helping create a better future post-COVID-19.
Dakar Engineering Students Put Their Brains Together
These students from a top engineering school in Dakar combined their skills to aid countries such as Senegal who have fewer medical resources. While the number of cases in smaller countries is not as significant as in European countries or the U.S., the impact of the virus on these areas can be detrimental. The number of cases of COVID-19 in Senegal is currently at 9,805 as of July 28. The fear is that as a poorer country it will be less equipped to fight the pandemic. Recognizing the need for more advanced technology, this group of students decided to use their skills to combat the spread of the virus in hospitals.
The students invented a small robot that can record a patient’s blood pressure and temperature, known as “Dr. Car.” This robot allows doctors to obtain vitals without putting themselves at a larger risk. One of the students who invented the device, Lamine Mouhamed Kebe, recounted that the purpose of the robot was to “reduce the exposure of doctors and nurses to infected patients.” In turn, this robot also helps to eliminate the need for pricey protective gear.
The device has a mounted camera and doctors can control the robot through an app. This device also allows communication between the doctor and patient via the robot, which may allow healthcare professionals to treat infected people who live in rural areas without a nearby hospital. To protect their staff, Senegalese medical professionals have been making use of these students’ creative invention.
“Dr. Car” Invention Flourishes in Hospital Wards
The initial prototype that these Senegalese students designed was originally a small cart used to either deliver equipment or carry meals to patients. After recognizing its potential, Abdoulaye Bousso, head of an emergency ward in Dakar Hospital, came up with the idea to add mechanical arms that could conduct tests and record vitals.
Currently, the students are working to craft the device to perform these functions, which would help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Senegal. In this same vein, another Senegalese student named Gianna Andjembe, specializing in electrical engineering, designed a hand sanitizer dispenser that “could reduce the need for school and hospital staff to supervise hand-washing” and sanitizing. This would also reduce the risk of infection spread by contact while also ensuring that people are protecting themselves and staying safe.
Senegalese Students Create a Better Future
The pandemic completely changed the lives of these students as it forced them to adapt to digital learning, leading to a reliance on video lectures rather than labs with hands-on learning. While the virus upended these students’ lives, they saw the opportunity to use their intelligence and skills for good. Putting their engineering knowledge to use, their inventions have the potential to save the lives of healthcare professionals and treat infected people who cannot reach a hospital.
In more impoverished countries such as Senegal, many overlook the ideas of young people since they cannot afford the same resources as those in wealthier countries. However, those who live in these countries have first-hand experience with these particular issues and the intelligence to combat problems. The youth in Senegal proved that when the world fosters and values young minds, students have the power to save lives.
– Natascha Holenstein