In the face of rising coronavirus-related cases and a spike in mortality rates in India whilst going through a massive shortage of PPE kits, healthcare professionals are risking their lives to save people. Unfortunately, India, like most parts of the world, is in dire need of PPE for the safety of its healthcare practitioners. Faced with a massive shortage of the same, healthcare professionals are using raincoats and helmets to treat patients affected by the disease. The situation is so severe that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has called upon industries and governments to scale manufacturing by at least 40 per cent to meet the increasing demand globally.
In India, Maker’s Asylum, a Mumbai-based creative solutions’ hackerspace is making face shields for medical teams to safely navigate the crisis and treat the patients. They are currently supplying them to 20 hospitals in Mumbai. These face shields have been designed by the founder of Maker’s Asylum, Vaibhav Chhabra and lab head Narender Sharma for healthcare professionals like doctors, nurses and people conducting COVID-19 tests.
The specialty of these face shields is that they are easy to make, and can be produced rapidly at a mass scale across the country. The shield is made of acrylic, foam, OHP sheets and elastic bands and is reusable. The transparent OHP sheets can be replaced quickly and the shield has hinges to fit all head sizes. These face shields can be used to protect healthcare workers from body fluids like mucous and saliva on the facial area, further reducing their chances of contracting the coronavirus. “The requirement for these protective gears will soon reach more than a lakh and besides these 10,000 masks, we have orders from private individuals and hospitals too,” said Ms Richa Shrivastava, Managing Partner of Maker’s Asylum.
The community space launched its crowdfunding campaign for ‘M-19’ face shields on the online crowdfunding platform Ketto, and started supplying it on 29th March.
Makers Asylum started out by supplying 15 face shields on the same day. Now, they have almost reached their half-way mark by supplying about 54,051 face shields out of the 1 lakh target, that too, barely in a matter of 11 days!
However, this feat was not achieved by Maker’s Asylum alone. They worked in tandem with 12 labs across 12 cities like Pune, Jaipur, Rajkot, and Bengaluru, amongst others. This was done in order to take care of the logistical problem of transporting the face shields from Mumbai to other parts of the country in the midst of a nation-wide lockdown. “So the idea was to come up with a standard product and not produce them centrally but everywhere, and not deal with the logistics of distribution,” said Richa in an interview with The Hindu. This strategy has led to the distribution of face shields for healthcare professionals across 50 hospitals in the country, as well as frontline workers like the policemen.
Vaibhav, along with three other core members of the Maker’s Asylum team, came up with 20 prototypes of these face shields before zeroing in on a design that best suited their interests. The workstation at Maker’s Asylum worked with 10 volunteers in every shift till midnight in order to produce these face shields in a comparatively small period of time. Alone, they have supplied 13,486 face shields available at Rs. 55 per piece. These shields can be sanitised and reused, thereby contributing to the reduction of bio-medical waste.
Vaibhav feels that using face shields is the most effective means of preventing transmission, since it occurs chiefly through the mouth, nose and the eyes, which the face shield effectively covers.
Mumbai policemen bought about 2000 of these face shields. While half of them have paid for it, the other half were given away for free by Maker’s Asylum, according to Better India.
The best thing about these shields is that it is cost-effective and does not need much to be made. Here’s an excellent DIY video by kids at the Maker’s Asylum who made these.
We at Homegrown have come together with Maker’s Asylum to raise funds for PPE shields for those in the front line. We ask you to donate whatever little you can for the cause. Here’s a link to the fundraiser.
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