Highlights

Coronavirus: Afghan girls make ventilators out of car parts

Afghanistan’s all-girl robotics team has turned it focus on coronavirus patients – by making affordable ventilators out of car parts.

The teenagers made headlines in 2017 when they won a special award at an international competition in the US.

Now they are racing against time to deliver ventilators by the end of May, at a fraction of the market price.

Afghanistan, reeling from years of war, has a maximum of just 400 ventilators for a population of 38.9 million.

So far, more than 7,650 coronavirus cases and 178 deaths have been confirmed, but the authorities fear the situation could get worse and overwhelm an already fragile healthcare system.

“It’s important even if we can save one life with our effort,” team member Nahid Rahimi, 17, told the BBC.

Known as the “Afghan Dreamers”, the girls come from the western province of Herat, where Afghanistan’s first case of Covid-19 was reported.

It’s the nation’s hotspot for the pandemic because of its close proximity to Iran, the region’s epicentre of the outbreak.

The girls, aged between 14 and 17, have built a prototype using a motor from a used Toyota Corolla and a chain drive from a Honda motorcycle.

They say their ventilators will give temporary relief to patients with respiratory difficulty in an emergency when standard ventilators are not available.

“I feel so proud to be part of a team that is trying to do something meaningful to support our doctors and nurses – they are our heroes at this time,” says team captain, Somaya Faruqi.

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