The success of any crisis management is affected by a number of factors, including the availability of the necessary equipment. It is a crucial lesson that we, as a society, had difficulties revising during the spring, amid the global epidemic caused by the COVID-19 virus.
The lack of protective and medical equipment prompted the United Nation’s agency, called the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), to launch a local public call for innovative solutions in April, that would contribute to the strengthening of the domestic capacity for long-term production of that equipment and its components, while significantly reducing the reliance on imports.
We received 50 applications with innovative ideas for reducing and mitigating the effects of the pandemic for the challenge call, addressed to legal entities and scientific research institutions in Serbia. The UNDP’s Portfolio Manager for Serbia, Miroslav Tadic, says that 23 proposals for inventive ways of producing and procuring personal protective and medical equipment were selected, such as the clinical respirators, COVID-19 test kits, as well as the healthcare waste management processes and equipment.
An overview of all solutions can be found on the UNDP’s platform “Local solutions for maintaining health and greater resilience of the health system”: https://covid19response.undp.org.rs/sr/.
Miroslav points out that in this manner, UNDP is helping all of the shortlisted candidates to promote themselves further and find additional sources of funding or to establish possible partnerships. As for the question regarding the criteria for selecting proposals, our interlocutor says they were based on the expected outputs vs the invested funds.
“We were selecting the solutions that would be able to provide an immediate response to the effects of the pandemic (such as the personal protective equipment, i.e. protective masks) and also the solutions that would be particularly useful in the medium-term (such as the respirators in domestic production). With the initial financial support from the German Embassy in Serbia, the USAID and the Austrian Development Agency, we are going to support the production of biodegradable face masks, respiratory protective masks made of PVC material with a replaceable SMS filter, subsequently the development and implementation of an automated system for monitoring hand disinfection in health care institutions, and finally, the production of medical respirators using 3D printers and lasers.”
Very interesting solutions are also those that promote the application of artificial intelligence in the processing of test results for the presence of coronavirus, as well as promote smart monitoring systems for the control of sanitary conditions in the healthcare surroundings. A special group includes solutions for detection of viruses or antibodies against the virus, of which the proposal for the sustainable production of serological ELISA test for antibodies for the SARS-CoV-2 virus in Serbia stood out.
Interview by: Tamara Zjacic
Read the whole interview in the new issue of the Energy portal Magazine SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT, september-november, 2020.