UM associate professor asks for help to make PPE boxes to protect Covid-19 healthcare staff

A healthcare worker using the PPE box to treat a patient suffering from respiratory failures. — Picture by Dr Lai Hsien Yung
A healthcare worker using the PPE box to treat a patient suffering from respiratory failures. — Picture by Dr Lai Hsien Yung

PETALING JAYA, March 26 — A university professor is asking for help to make personal protective equipment (PPE) boxes to protect medical staff while they are intubating patients.

Universiti Malaya’s dentistry faculty Associate Professor Dr Firdaus Hariri said they needed Malaysians, who have access to fabrication laboratories and skills, to make the boxes.

Dr Firdaus told Malay Mail that with the worsening of the Covid-19 pandemic, many infected patients may develop respiratory failure requiring endotracheal intubation (procedure by which a tube is inserted through the mouth down into the trachea).

“Although donned with full protective gear, healthcare providers who are managing these patients are probably still at risk of contracting the virus.

“The PPE box provides a form of shield between healthcare workers and patients while allowing healthcare workers to move his arms so that he can perform the necessary tasks during rescue intervention.”

Dr Firdaus also said certain ideas and improvisations can be initiated at home although Malaysians were under the movement control order.

The associate professor said the idea of making the PPE box was inspired by Taiwanese doctor, Dr Lai Hsien Yung, who designed these boxes so that healthcare workers would have additional protection in facilities that were running out of resources.

The PPE boxes can be reused for the next patient after the box is cleaned thoroughly with 70 per cent alcohol or bleach after each intubation, according to a guide posted by Dr Lai.

On what it takes to design the PPE boxes, Dr Firdaus said the fabrication would require valuable input from people in the fields of medicine, biomedicine, architecture and design.

“Although it looks simple, the PPE box requires the ideal choice of material selection suitable in medical settings, the right measurement to accommodate certain cases and situations.”

Dr Firdaus said it was possible to design the PPE boxes as long as one followed the measurements given and used materials such as a five millimeter acrylic or transparent polycarbonate sheet.

Measurement needed for the fabrication of the PPE box. — Picture by Dr Lai Hsien Yung
Measurement needed for the fabrication of the PPE box. — Picture by Dr Lai Hsien Yung

Dr Firdaus also wrote on Facebook about how he and his team were facing limited resources to get the supplies of acrylic sheets and appealed for contributions in the form of material, delivery, fabrication and funding.

Dr Firdaus Fb post:

For further information, those interested can contact CAD/CAM engineer Dr Izhar at 013-246 929 or reach out to UM’s architecture student, Akif Ariff at 018-215 1713 (if anyone requires a laser cutting facility).

For information on the measurement and template of the PPE box, surf over here

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