Md Anwar Hossain, 38, an electrician of a private hospital in Rajshahi, has made an extraordinary innovation by developing “Centralized Nebulizer System” to serve multiple patients simultaneously using a single cylinder.

Under the system, each nebulizer can have up to 30 nebulizing pipes attached with different beds and the doses are centrally controlled by the device.

The centralized nebulizer also helps multiple patients to avail treatment simultaneously, thus, an emergency patient does not have to wait for his/her turn to take the medical service.

This is a cost-effective and efficient method of providing services in hospitals, especially in emergency cases. This system has been introduced to reduce the waste of time for receiving emergency respiratory aid via nebulization.

“I used to privately teach diploma level students in electro-medical course in my residence at Dingadoba in Rajshahi city. I got the idea of developing a centralized nebulizer system while working on the thesis of two of my students of Rajshahi Polytechnic Institute in 2014,” Anwar Hossain told media.

He said as an electrician, he had knowledge about medical equipment while working at a private medical college in Rajshahi.

“I saw long queues of patients with breathing problems in receiving nebulization facilities at the hospital. From this point of view, we thought, if multiple patients can be served with a single machine, that will be great work in providing treatment to patients with respiratory problems,” he said.

Anwar along with two of his students — Dipak Kumar Shill and Sohel Rana of Rajshahi Polytechnic Institute — who passed their diploma course in 2015, developed the idea of preparing centralized nebulizer system.

The three-member team placed their idea at the Digital Innovation Fair, the annual event hosted by a2i, in 2014 at the district level. Later, their idea was selected as the best one from more than 100 innovative ideas at the national level.

“We received huge support from Innovation Lab (ilab) of a2i. Without their support, it would not have been possible to translate our idea into reality. Receiving financial assistance from a2i iLab, we came to Dhaka in 2014 and received technical suggestions from experts in developing our idea. We also received funding from the a2i,” Anwar added.

a2i iLab seeks, incubates and accelerates innovations to tackle large problems of the society by leveraging technology, particularly electromechanical devices, internet and renewable energy.

With a view to engaging and empowering the whole of Bangladeshi society to co-create novel solutions to development challenges and boost their chances of making an impact at scale, iLab started its work since 2016.

Talking to media about centralized nebulizer system, Device innovation Expert of a2i Taufiqur Rahman said currently hospitals use one nebulizer device that can provide treatment to one patient at a time, while a long queue of patients have to wait for their turn especially during this Covid-19 pandemic period.

The centralized nebulization system is able to provide respiratory aid in form of nebulization to up to 30 patients at a time, using 6 nodes from one device and each node serves one patient, he said.

“We have successfully completed piloting the centralized nebulization system at National Institute of Chest and Vascular Diseases (NICVD) in Dhaka in 2017 along with four others in Gazipur district. NICVD and several hospitals are operating the system,” he said.

He said this system has already served more than 246,000 patients in the last couple of years and it is still running smoothly with minimum maintenance cost.

Rahman said recently they have successfully implemented the Central Nebulizer System at Noagaon Sadar Hospital with a joint collaboration between local administration, hospital management and private sector support.

“We have introduced a nationwide implementation plan for this innovation through a partnership model with Local Government Administrative guidance and Private Sector Support,” he said.

“Our innovated nebulizer system at Naogaon General Hospital can nebulize 34 patients at a time and multiple times in a day. The system is relatively cheap, easy to use and almost maintenance-free,” he said.

With lack of sufficient equipment to serve nebulizer to each Covid-19 patient individually, a central nebulizer is a better alternative, he said, adding that this helps multiple patients in a hospital to avail the service of nebulizer simultaneously.

Rahman said iLab reaches out to individual innovators, students and startups through innovation and challenge competitions while promising innovators receive seed funding from an Innovation Fund, access to a Maker Lab set up by iLab, and mentorship by experts from the industry and academia.

He said the incubation process comes with guidance to the young innovators to turn a prototype into a practical and viable solution.

Prototype to Product development is our last but the most significant area before scaling-up through commercialization, he said.

He said innovators are further supported through copyright and patent filing to protect the intellectual property of the innovators.

Ahsan Habib, a 22 years old student who has finished memorizing the Holy Quran at the age of 17 and have completed his diploma in electronics at Barguna Government Polytechnic Institute in 2019.

Four years back, he started working with visually impaired people and tried to develop an easy and low-cost smart devise for them. He identified the common problem of a visually impaired people and looked for a solution using different electronic devices and tried to create senses for them with different hepatic feedback, the use of touch to communicate with users, and voice message.

Now his innovative ‘Smart White Cane’ is an international standard disabled device that serves the visually impaired with different facilities.

Talking to the media, Habib said he got the idea of developing such a device when he was a first-year student at Barguna Government Polytechnic Institute and with the help of his teachers, he showcased his project in a competition in his college.

“I got appreciation from my teachers to further develop the idea. Then I got an opportunity to place my idea at Digital Innovation Fair at the district level in 2017. My idea was selected at district and divisional level and later national level,” he said.

He said then he got the opportunity to work with a2i iLAB to further develop his idea to prepare the device for the use of visually impaired people.

“Without cooperation, technical and financial support of a2i iLab, it might not have been possible for me to develop the device for use of visually impaired people. Later, we developed it for commercial use as well,” he said.

About the device, Habib said if there is a barrier within the specified range (90 cm in indoor mode and 130 cm in outdoor mode), his device will signal “resistor” through its loud speaker while the closer the user goes to the barrier, the more the vibration increases.

If there is a low space in front of the user (8-21cm), the signal is ‘slightly lower’ while if the space is lower (more than 35cm), the signal is ‘maximum low’ and vibrate, he said.

He said it specifies the time when a particular button is pressed and it has option for alarm settings.

“The device automatically lights on when it is dark and Motion detector is available for user safety. It has 10 hours battery life and most importantly its local language voice message is its unique innovation,” he said.

A2i-Innovation Lab Focal point Taufiqur Rahman said at present this innovation is not only an innovation or a prototype rather a commercially viable project under a2i-iLab, under the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology Division.

“We have developed this Smart Blind Stick based on detailed analysis of visually impaired persons and their daily needs like navigation assistance, ensure security, local voice support, voice clock and personal care. The device is low cost but highly responsive, user-friendly, easy to use and customizable for serving all kinds of users’ needs,” he said.

“We believe an idea can change a society. A project may change the fate of millions of people,” he said.

In iLab any ideas that can modernize the traditional systems, speed up services, reducing costs and time are being promoted.

iLab has established partnerships with all 137 public and private universities in Bangladesh and is gradually engaging the brightest minds in faculty and students in solving difficult problems faced by society today.

It is expanding its pool of industry researchers who can act as mentors and innovators. iLab has recently reached out to non-resident Bangladeshi experts who are acting as mentors to several projects.

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