Bayero University’s Contribution to Fight Against Covid-19 in Nigeria By: Nura Garba

As the world grapples with the challenges of curbing the spread of coronavirus and proffering means of containment, Bayero University has not been left out, as it has taken a centre stage in contributing its quota.

Since the outbreak of Covid-19 in Nigeria on 27th February 2020, when an Italian citizen in Lagos tested positive for the virus, Bayero University has risen to the challenge of being a strategic partner of both the federal government Kano State Government and other concerned stakeholders.

One of the biggest breakthroughs by the University in the fight against Covid-19 is the establishment of molecular test laboratory at the Centre for Infectious Diseases Research (CIDR) which the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) described as world-class owing to the state-of-the-art facilities installed to carry out the task during the commissioning ceremony on Friday, 1st May 2020.

According to the Director, CIDR, Professor Isah Abubakar, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Muhammad Yahuza Bello had approved N50 million to set up the modern laboratory with all needed equipment.

The laboratory was designed to complement the only test centre at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH) which has the capacity to test 40 samples a day. Bayero University’s new laboratory has the capacity to test 180 samples in a day.

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bello said testing is central in fighting the COVID-19 and with the huge population of Kano, there was only one centre at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital. This, according to him is what informed the University’s decision to mobilize its resources from other University’s centres to assemble them at the CIDR by a team of experts to complement the other testing centre at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital in order to vigorously fight the dreaded disease in Kano.

“The advantage of our centre is that it runs 90 samples per shift and we intend to do two shifts. This means a total of 180 tests can be done in one day,” said the Vice-Chancellor.

Bayero University had used its resources to procure 1500 testing kits which will be used to test samples

Another milestone in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic is that a team of Engineers, Scientists and Medical Doctors in Bayero University produced a prototype ventilator which operates in two modes. Mode one is that which breathing of a patient is totally controlled by the machine while mode 2 is the one that the machine supports the breathing of a patient. The ventilator was produced using locally available materials.

As the price of ventilator around the world soars to the tune of $25,000, the cost of production of Bayero University’s ventilator stands at N500,000.

The ventilator is based on the design developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States, to provide emergency ventilation in the absence of conventional ventilators during the Covid-19 pandemic. The concept is based on automating manual ventilation using a standard Ambu bag which is readily available in any medical outfit. The system has two main parts: The mechanical and electrical/control parts. 

The mechanical parts consist of a mechanism to press the Ambu bag to and fro to provide air at the desired pressure and mass flow rate to the patient. It consists of fingers driven by a gearing system powered by a DC motor. The electrical/control part consists of a microcontroller, sensors, switches and a power supply. The function of this is to control the mechanical fingers in pressing the Ambu bag to provide mechanical ventilation at a pre-set mass flow rate, breath per minute and inspiration/ expiration ratio. The control system uses feedback from the patient to provide in assist or sedated mode.

The next stage now for the ventilator is to test it for animals after which the test will be carried out on humans after following the necessary protocols.

“Apart from COVID-19, the ventilator can be useful in many ways to save the lives of the people,” said Professor Ibrahim Abdullahi, Chairman of the assembling committee.

As it is now, Bayero University has collaborated with some organizations like Peugeot Automobile Nigeria (PAN) to commence mass and commercial production of the machines as the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Muhammad Yahuza Bello assured the team of cooperation and assistance in whatever means to actualize the dream of BUK to blaze the trail in the country.

The Bayero University had even before this time produced hand sanitizers through the Department of Pure and Industrial Chemistry produced hand sanitizers. Two thousand (1000) hand sanitizers of 500mg were donated to the Kano State Fund Raising Committee of Covid-19 and additional 1000 were distributed to the members of the University community as part of its effort to prevent the spread of the virus in the state.

Additionally, the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences in collaboration with the Department of Pharmacy in the University Health Services produced hand sanitizers in mass quantity. The sanitizers were distributed across the faculties, departments, centres and units of the University.

In what could best be described as well deserved appointment, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Muhammad Yahuza Bello was appointed by the Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje to serve as Chairman of Kano Fund Raising Committee.

He was able to live up to expectation by swinging into action and working within the stipulated time allotted to the committee.  He was applauded when he presented the committee’s report on 6th April 2020. According to the report,   the cash donations stood at N364, 695, 780:50 with Alhaji Aminu Alhassan Dantata as the highest donor with N300m.

The CIDR has been in the forefront in terms of creation of awareness in Kano State with the Director, Professor Isah Abubakar visiting several media outfits both print and broadcast to help people understand the virus and take precautionary measures against the spread.

Bayero University under the able leadership of Professor Muhammad Yahuza Bello is determined to continue to contribute immensely towards the containment of the COVID-19 and all hands are on deck to achieve this laudable objective.

Nura Garba writes from the Directorate of Public Affairs, Bayero University, Kano

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