TAKE A LOOK | Defy's new SA-built ventilators are the size of a suitcase

Business Insider SA
defy ventilators
  • Defy has unveiled its new Impilo ventilator, which is being manufactured locally in participation with Denel.
  • The company claims it's the first “intensive-care quality” ventilator to be manufactured in Africa.
  • Defy was part of government's National Ventilator Project, which has been hit by delays. 
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Defy, with help from Denel, is building a suitcase-sized ventilator at its Durban factory.

According to the manufacturer, the ventilator is the first “intensive-care quality” ventilator to be manufactured on the African continent.

The Impilo ventilator, which is being manufactured by Defy and Denel.

The ventilator was designed in partnership with the University of Cambridge Open Ventilator System Initiative team, as well as Defy’s Turkish owner Arçelik. Denel and local engineers were also involved in the design process. Prototype versions of Impilo were developed under the specifications of the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the World Health Organisation’s requirements for ventilators.

Defy worked with Denel, as well as 17 local suppliers – which are each responsible for various device components – to manufacture the Impilo ventilators.

“Impilo means ‘life’ in Zulu and Xhosa, which we think is a fitting name for a device that so many people depend on right now for their survival,” says Evren Albas, CEO of Defy Appliances. Defy previously said that it would include components used in the everyday production of core appliances.

Impilo is a full-function ventilator, which can be used in “invasive mode” - via tubes on sedated patients – as well as for “assisted” ventilation, to help patients who are awake with their breathing.

(Supplied by Defy)

Defy says it is fast-tracking production with Denel to ensure delivery in South Africa. In April, Defy joined the National Ventilator Project (NVP), which was launched by government.

Ventilators are used in treating severely ill Covid-19 patients, by pumping oxygen into the lungs of those struggling to breath.

But South Africa only had 6,000 ventilators in private and public hospitals at the start of the pandemic. The goal of the NVP was to roll out 10,000 ventilators by June.

Due to delays in getting approval for prototypes from health authorities, the first 10,000 ventilators – manufactured by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) - will now only be completed at the end of September 2020.


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