16-April-2022 (GMT +6)
Author: Md Mizanur Rahman Himadri

A young innovator’s tireless effort to curb the spread of coronavirus

SM Anamul Arefin, a Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University graduate, has been working hard to manufacture reusable, plastic face shields, in a bid to prevent coronavirus infections.

"The special face shields are designed to protect frontline healthcare workers from any droplets with the virus from coughs or sneezes," said Arefin. He further said people who provide emergency services are marginally more likely to be affected by the coronavirus.

"After the use of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), some areas between the mouth and the goggles remain uncovered, where germs are likely to enter. The face shields will help to cover those areas," said Arefin.

Considering the issue, he started designing the face shields in the fab lab of Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University since March 20. Around 60 physicians of different hospitals in the country have taken the face shields from the lab so far.

In 2017, the digital fabrication lab was set up in Sher-e- Bangla Agricultural University under the Higher Education Quality Enhancement Project (HEQEP), funded by World Bank.

There are 3D printers, ledger cutters, CNC routers, venial plotters and PCB milling machines in the digital lab, said Prof Dr AHM Solaiman, the director of the project.

After completing his Master's in Genetics and Plant Breeding from the university in 2016, Arefin did a six-month course on principles and applications of digital fabrication under the supervision of Prof Neil Gershenseld at MIT from Biggan Asram of Pune in 2018.

The same year, Arefin joined the fab lab of Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University as instructor. He is working day and night to manufacture the face shields. The office of the Directorate General (DG) of Health has given them permission to work amid the ongoing countrywide shutdown.

Arefin said that an agreement was signed between BRAC Social Innovation Lab and the fab lab of Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University last month. According to the agreement, BRAC will take 2,000 face shields from them. He hopes they can give 1,000 face shields out of the total requirement soon. 

Dr Jayedul Islam of Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College and Hospital said that he took a face shield from the fab lab at BDT 450 and it is a safe and quality product.

Besides the face shields, the fab lab team is designing disinfection chambers, which will be set up at the entrances of different education institutions, hospitals, malls and offices, according to Arefin.