The Faculty of Medicine at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Zimbabwe has created an inexpensive device called a spacer specifically for children with asthma. The spacer is made from a recycled water bottle and an inhaler. It assists children who struggle to use the inhaler correctly by ensuring that the medicine reaches their lungs.
Professor Elopy Sibanda, the Dean of the NUST Faculty of Medicine, came up with the idea of using spacers after observing that many children under the age of five were having difficulty taking their life-saving medication through the inhaler alone. He told The Herald:
As a doctor I would prescribe medicine for children and their parents would buy it, but still the children due to their age could not master taking in the medication. So all the medication would go to waste and the condition of the child would not improve. Even asking the parents to demonstrate how they give it to children, it became clear that there was a challenge.
Professor Sibanda used a discarded water bottle, cut it and attached an inhaler. This idea was supported by the Zimbabwe Allergy Association and the Paediatric Association of Zimbabwe.
The South African Allergy Association initially laughed at the invention, but eventually donated funds to produce spacers using custom-made containers. The spacers are plastic bottles with two openings, allowing children to inhale medicine easily. They will be distributed to children in Bulawayo and other areas. The spacers will save lives and money, as the ones available at pharmacies are expensive. Asthma is a condition that causes breathing difficulties, and the spacers will help improve the lives of affected children and their families.
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