By Dhel Nazario
A cubicle that will sanitize medical frontliners as they exit COVID-19 patient wards is being developed by a team of Filipino researchers to increase safety protocols for healthcare workers.
Called SaniPod, it is a self-containing cubicle similar to air showers which will ensure that medical personnel are given an extra layer of protection from COVID-19. SaniPod cubicles are more efficient than the existing sanitation tents in terms of disinfection success.
Funded by the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD), the technology uses advanced features such as acrylic walls for easy cleaning and disinfection of external and internal surfaces when placed in highly contagious and dense areas in the hospital.
DOST-PCHRD said that SaniPod cubicles are also installed with automatic motion sensors to activate the entrance and exit doors, with different disinfectants coupled with UV light and uses a foot sanitation unit to disinfect the under surface of shoes. This will decrease contact with the surfaces of the cubicle, leading to lesser chances of microbes staying on the surfaces.
“With over 2,000 healthcare workers now infected with COVID-19, the country continues to face a shortage of medical personnel amidst the pandemic. While some nurses have been working for longer shifts to respond to the increasing cases, numbers reveal that there are only six doctors for every 10,000 Filipinos. The infection has made it harder for the country’s health capacity, as nearly 650 doctors are already infected with COVID-19 as of May 12,” the agency said.
Aiming to distribute more than 100 units to various hospitals after development, the cubicle can also provide psychological assurance to healthcare workers, and a means of disinfection for Filipinos if placed in highly dense areas where a lot of people congregate such as public markets.
Developed by a team from the UP Diliman College of Engineering, Prof. Eduardo Magdaluyo, Jr., Engr. Jason Pechardo, and Precision/Instrumentation Technician Edgar Argote, in collaboration with UPD Chemistry (Dr. Fe Carino and Eiza Yu-Roberto), Microbiology (Joyce Ibarra), UP Manila College of Medicine (Dr. Cathy Co and Dr. Edward Wang) and College of Public Health (Dr. Maita Lota and Ms. Mary Ann Sison), SaniPod is one of the efforts under the Surgical Innovation and Biotechnology Laboratory or S.I.B.O.L., a UP Manila College of Medicine program which collaborates with scientists and engineers from UP Diliman.
SIBOL is supported by DOST-PCHRD and aims to use locally-sourced material and technology to produce much needed surgical and medical devices in the country.
Dr. Edward Wang, Professor at UP College of Medicine and Philippine General Hospital, leads the SIBOL Program. Recently, his team formed the SIBOL COVID Task Force to respond to the increasing need for medical devices amid the COVID-19 pandemic.