Pakistani Students Invent Low-cost Ventilator, Win MIT Healthcare Prize

Umbulizer founders Shaheer Piracha and Harvard Medical School student Sanchay Gupta (holding the check, from l-r) pose with the judges after winning the Sloan Healthcare Innovations Prize competition. Photo: Zach Winn

A team of Pakistani students have made the entire country by inventing a low-cost ventilator and representing the country on the international stage. After bagging MIT’s healthcare prize, the team is hopeful to introduce it in Pakistan as well.

The device is named Umbulizer and provides immense relief to the people. While regular ventilator costs about Rs 2 million ($15000), Umbulizer costs 280,000 ($2000). Ventilators are very expensive in Pakistan and the lesser fortunate cannot afford to ‘breathe’.

As MIT News reports, the team won $20,000 at the annual MIT Sloan Healthcare Innovations Prize competition. The team includes Shaheer Piracha, who is a graduate of Boston University graduate and Harvard Medical School student Sanchay Gupta, MIT alumni Moiz Imam ’18 and Abdurrahman Akkas ’18, Wasay Anwer, who is a mechanical engineering student at MIT, Boston University student Rohan Jadeja, and Farzan Khan, who recently graduated from New York University Abu Dhabi.

Speaking to MIT Sloan’s Wong Auditorium on Feb 21, Piracha said that they spoke with hospital administrators in Pakistan and they expressed the need for a cost-effective solution.

”When we spoke to Pakistani doctors and hospital administrators, they expressed a need for a device that is simple to operate, capable of remote monitoring, portable, and built using locally sourced material” – Piracha said. 

 “Our device’s competitive advantage lies in the fact that we’ve balanced the accuracy and consistency of a traditional ventilator with the portability and affordability of an Ambu Bag.” – he added. 

The Umbulizer, as the team said, will help 90 per cent of patients struggling to breathe at a fraction of the cost of a regular ventilator.

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