Dunedin firm sends 50 respiratory hoods to beleaguered Fiji

Mark Seaton (left) and Richard Aimers, of SouthMED Ltd, display one of their ventilator hoods,...
Mark Seaton (left) and Richard Aimers, of SouthMED Ltd, display one of their ventilator hoods. Photo: Gregor Richardson.
Potentially lifesaving equipment made in Dunedin has been delivered to Covid-ravaged Fiji, after initial success in Nepal.

Dunedin medical engineering start-up SouthMED Ltd gave 50 respiratory hoods to the Fijian Government, to distribute to hospitals.

It came in response to a significant shortage of oxygen supplies faced by countries worldwide, SouthMED chairman Mark Seaton said.

Normally hoods used up to 120 litres of gas per minute, of which 50% could be supplementary oxygen.

But the SouthMED hoods could run effectively on as little as 15 litres per minute of supplementary oxygen, Mr Seaton said.

"While maintaining the advantages of reduced mortality risk, reduced length of treatment and a high level of infection control compared with mask-based options provides considerable benefits in a Covid scenario."

Hospitals have been stretched as the pandemic worsens in Fiji.

On Wednesday, Fiji recorded 1091 new cases of Covid-19.

"With news coming in of how stretched the Fiji health system is becoming, we just had to offer our support."

In May, SouthMED sent 80 hoods, all with locally sourced parts, to Nepal.

Although Nepal had the same pandemic severity as India, it was not getting the global media attention needed to channel resources its way, Mr Seaton said.

Clinicians in Nepal who used the hoods reported they were advantageous, he said.

"As well as providing a more reliable seal to maintain a continuous positive airway pressure, the hoods minimise the occurrence of pressure sores normally found with an oxygen face mask, and facilitate easy feeding without the need to remove the hood.

"Importantly, the hoods help to contain airborne viral particles, reducing the risk to clinicians."

Funding for the hoods was provided by businessman Cliff Cook.

"While the hoods were intended for New Zealand use, we are pleased to be able to help our near neighbours," Mr Seaton said.


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