With the spread of COVID19 in India, panic, and demand for buying face masks, especially N95 is also increasing. Stocks are drying fast. Prices of masks have been doubled or tripled by now. In order to solve this issue, a group of innovators and friends from IIT Kharagpur, Jadavpur University and NIT Durgapur join together to develop low-cost Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) mask using readily available materials and distributing it in the state.
Nandini Ghosh who is an MBA from the Asian Institute of management manila and Mannheim business school Germany. Presently working as Manager Digital Learning at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad says, “My sister (Rohini Ghosh) is a junior doctor at Kolkata Medical College. While they were fighting the COVID 19 war, she mentioned that there was a severe shortage of PPEs for doctors, nurses, and all frontline workers. At the same time, my classmate from Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, Arkadeep Kumar, who later went to Jadavpur University and finished his Ph.D. from Georgia Tech, got in touch with me. Arka and a team from Georgia Tech were designing face shields for doctors in the US, so we decided to do something for our home state, West Bengal, and thus started the work“.
The shields have been manufactured keeping in mind the scarcity of protective equipment amongst all those who continue to provide us essential services in these critical times. The shields are affordable, accessible, and provide a manifold increase in protection against SARS Cov2 when used in conjunction with easily available surgical and other masks.
Nandini further says, “Meanwhile, Mehul Dasgupta (our junior from Bhavan’s and a recent graduate of IIT Kharagpur) joined the team. Arka and Mehul together designed face shields keeping in mind the humid weather in Kolkata, the scarcity of raw materials and scalability, and the reusability factor. The shields are affordable, accessible, and provide a manifold increase in protection against SARS Cov2 when used in conjunction with easily available surgical and other masks. We were looking for a manufacturer when we got in touch with Kaushik Ghosh at Kumortuli. Kaushik comes from a legacy of idol makers and enthusiastically agreed to help us. With Kaushik’s help, we set up a small workshop at Kumortuli.”
To manufacture the shields, a small manufacturing unit in Kumortuli Kolkata has been set up and frontline servicemen like doctors and police are requested to deliver the shields to the frontline workers. At present the face, shields are being used across all government hospitals in Kolkata.
Nandini further says, “With all 3 of us being out of the city, we started struggling with the logistics. My junior from NIT Durgapur (Imran Khan) came to help. He took charge of the entire logistics for us. Imran helped deliver the face shields across all government hospitals in Kolkata, including ID Beleghata, Kolkata Medical College, NRS, RG Kar, SSKM, Burdwan medical college and hospital and several other hospitals across the state“.
Thus, with the positive and innovative move of this unsung young girls and boys came to the rescue of everyone from government, administration, frontline workers to common man.
Author Nibedita Sen is a Defence Correspondent turned Fact-checker, now associated with Alt News. Nibedita is awarded by the Government of Goa, two times for her contribution in the field of Media and Journalism.