The NVP is a project of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition given the undertaking to execute the initiative at industrial scale by co-ordinating national efforts. Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Minister Patel, with the support of Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Minister Blade Nzimande, mandated the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) to project manage the local design, development, production and deployment of the breathing apparatus devices.
SARAO has world-leading systems integration and systems engineering capabilities, evidenced by experience gained in the development of complex systems for the MeerKAT radio telescope, a precursor to the world’s largest Square Kilometre Array radio telescope. SARAO staff deployed to the project include experts in project management, technical assistance, systems engineering, procurement assistance and industry liaison.
The project was executed in collaboration with the National Department of Health under the leadership of the Minister of Health, Dr. Zweli Mkhize. Public and private sector clinical, medical technology and regulatory practitioners were integrally involved in leading and guiding both project development and execution. Principal Specialists, Critical Care, for Pulmonology and Anaesthesia have informed the requirements for relevant treatment therapies and apparatus required to best support this through direct experience in treating Covid-19 patients
Industry involvement also plays an important role. Under the auspices of Business for South Africa industry support and expertise have been deployed:
The Manufacturing Circle, a voluntary industry association and voice for South Africa’s manufacturing sector, advocated the importance of manufacturing the devices locally and acknowledged the importance of applying a systems engineering approach to the solution. The organisation assisted in identifying the competencies and parties required across the public and private sector to execute the project.
Zutari, South African based engineering consultants and advisors, has deployed technical expertise required to understand the integration of the devices and the public hospital infrastructure system, with particular reference to hospital bed capacity and oxygen.
A team of healthcare contract and intellectual property (IP) specialists from leading African law firm, Webber Wentzel provided advice on the choice of outside experts, drafting, negotiation and settlement of the prototype and manufacturing agreements required for the NVP. In addition to this Webber Wentzel assisted in ensuring the non-invasive ventilators were registered by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA).
All parties across government and industry seconded to the project operate on a voluntary, pro-bono basis.