Andile Tshuma/ Patrick Chitumba, Chronicle Reporters
THE National University of Science and Technology (Nust) and the Midlands State University (MSU) have started manufacturing sanitisers and masks as part of the institutions of higher learning’s contribution in the fight against Covid-19.
Nust is making masks and hopes to start manufacturing sanitisers in due course.
The MSU is manufacturing sanitisers.
Nust started the masks initiative last week and has managed to produce 1 000 masks in one day which are being distributed for free to the public.
Most of the masks have been given to members of the police force manning road. The initiative is being run by the university’s innovation hub.
Nust director of communication and marketing Mr Felix Moyo in an interview said the university had the capacity to double or triple the capacity if more funding is availed.
He said the project was so far being run using the institution of higher learning’s funds although they were waiting for promised funding from Government.
“Our nation is in crisis and the whole world is in crisis as a result of the outbreak of the Covid-19. As an institution of science and technology, we feel obligated to contribute in so many ways to helping in this fight and this masks initiative is only one of the ways we are contributing to the fight. This is a time when everyone who has a skill or means must contribute whatever they can to this cause,” said Mr Moyo.
He said the university was working on modalities to get into full scale production once it gets funding from the fiscus.
“We are currently constrained by funds to produce more but Government has promised to avail funding. The ones that we produced from the university coffers are being distributed for free and we want to ensure that the ones we will make from Government funding will be affordable to the general Zimbabwean,” he said. Mr Moyo said the university was also in the process of producing sanitisers which will be availed to the public soon.
In the Midlands province, the MSU incubation hub has started manufacturing hand sanitisers.
Officially launching the manufacturing plant at the incubation hub in Senga, Gweru last Friday, Midlands Provincial Affairs Minister, Larry Mavhima commended the university for investing its intellectual and scientific resources to produce the hand sanitiser in a cost-effective manner.
“I have been informed that the sanitizer is being manufactured in a controlled scientific environment by leading chemists in the department of Chemical Technology. This is commendable. Government is looking to universities to dedicate their intellectual infrastructure, scientific knowledge and facilities to fight not only Covid -19 but other challenges facing our nation,” he said.
“I’m pleased that MSU has responded timeously to the need for sanitary products which are necessary for sterilising hands and maintaining hand hygiene a critical element in controlling the spread of the virus.”
Minister Mavhima said universities and research institutions across the globe are racing to come up with inventions that can contain the virus.
Government, he said, commends its universities for also taking the lead locally in the fight against Covid- 19.
“Vice Chancellor (Professor Victor Muzvidziwa) and your team at MSU, I want to salute your innovation mindset and thank you most profusely for this patriotic act. You have turned this crisis into an opportunity and you have to be worthy recipients of public funding. It is our wish as Government to see universities becoming innovative and more resilient,” said Minister Mavhima.
“In times of crises as this, unscrupulous individuals and businesses can easily fleece citizens by providing substandard and exorbitant goods and services. In the context of the corona virus, this this would endanger the lives of our people. The World Health Organisation recommends that a hand sanitiser that can kill the virus must have an alcohol concentration of 60 percent and above. I am happy to report that this sanitiser we are launching today has 70 percent alcohol concentration and is also manufactured from the resources that have been mobilised locally. Washing our hands with soap and water regularly or using effective hand sanitiser can help contain the virus.”
Prof Muzvidziwa said there is a global race to acquire medical drugs and equipment which has led to a spike in prices and acute shortages.
“This state of affairs should rally our industry and institutions to stand in the gap. This is time for scientific innovation in medicine, pharmacy and even bio-medical engineering,” he said.
Prof Muzvidziwa said the manufacturing plant has the potential to produce 5 000 litres of the hand sanitiser per day.
He said the product which will be affordable to the people will be on the market as early as next week.
Meanwhile, the MSU donated over 2 000 litres of the sanitiser to Government for use at public places.