During COVID's rapid spread in early 2020, hospitals around the world had too many patients and a shortage of resources. While masks, gloves, and cleaning supplies topped many healthcare organizations' PPE requests, few items felt as essential as ventilators. Since these machines provide oxygen and life support, a shortage or absence can be fatal for patients with a respiratory illness like COVID. However, several obstacles make ventilators much harder to access during emergencies. The machines are often cost-prohibitive, and the organizations who were able to afford them could be limited by delayed production time or overly complicated programming that often requires a great deal of training and maintenance.
In order to address this problem, the team of experts behind non-profit humanitarian organization World Ventilator Foundation (WVF) assembled to create the world's most accessible ventilator. The WorldVent synthesizes complicated ICU functions into a streamlined, user-friendly ventilator that provides the same high-quality care at a fraction of the price. The average ventilator comprises of over 2,000 parts of varying availability that can slow production time. The WorldVent only requires 150 parts, all of which are readily available for fast, easy construction and wide deployment. This makes it easy for organizations with limited resources to order several ventilators and receive them in a timely manner in order to better serve patients. Many ventilators are also heavy and difficult to transport, while the WorldVent is compact and lightweight at 14lb. Best of all, the WorldVent's easy functionality only requires 20 minutes of training, making it easy for workers at understaffed facilities to save lives. Battery backup and easy connection to portable gas tanks makes the WorldVent easy to transport and operate in a wide variety of settings.
While this machine is perfectly suitable for the average hospital, the WorldVent was specifically created to function just as well in environments whose limited resources and infrastructure have made COVID especially deadly. WVF hopes the WorldVent helps the latter organizations who were already strained before COVID. "Access to healthcare can vary greatly around the world and this pandemic has shown it's even worse in times of a global crisis," said a statement from the organization. "[This] emergency has brought to light the disparity in medical resources found around the globe, and the need for affordable and reliable ventilators extends beyond this pandemic."
While WVF created the WorldVent in response to the pandemic, the fact of its existence proves that life-saving healthcare doesn't need to be cost-prohibitive or overly complicated. Global emergencies like COVID reveal how infrastructure in the most vital functions of society can make the difference between life and death for a large number of people. The WorldVent is a fantastic example of what can be accomplished when design teams prioritize the needs of the general population over those of the establishment.