KUFEMA Zimbabwe - Breathe!

Kufema Zimbabwe's mission is to save lives and help people with respiratory distress in Zimbabwe to breathe more easily.

Kufema means “breathe” in the Shona language, and that’s what we help people do: breathe easier, especially when they are short of oxygen. When COVID arrived in Zimbabwe in March 2020, the nation was shocked and saddened by the early death of our second patient, a well known broadcaster. His tragic passing revealed that there were no ventilators at the national COVID hospital, and it soon became clear that, like the rest of the world. Zimbabwe was not prepared for a pandemic. 

The next day, Kufema Zimbabwe was launched, with the aim of saving lives and helping people with respiratory distress to breathe easier. 

From low cost ventilators to the PEEP Devices that can treat people at home

Kufema began by making an Africa-friendly ventilator, which was the best known oxygen treatment for COVID at the time. Three incredible engineers managed to make a working prototype using scarce supplies in less than two months!

About that time – May 2020 - new information came to light that other oxygen therapy forms could be used to treat patients before they needed intensive care – and this was obviously a better option as it could save more lives, be more cost effective, and better protect health workers. 

We put our engineers on the case, and they came up with a number of designs, including an innovative ten patient oxygen therapy machine (a CPAP machine). However it didn’t seem to be the best solution – and our search led us to notice a team in South Africa who were making a low cost individual breathing device that could be used in clinics, ambulances, hospitals and even at home. No electricity required. It’s called the PEEP device. 

Equipping and Training Emergency Medical Services 

So now we’ve found the tech we need, we are focusing on helping to train, equip and support frontline medical staff, namely the COVID response teams around the country. These are made up of paramedics, nurses, ambulance staff, and other emergency response health workers. They are the first to visit people with suspected COVID to test and triage them for treatment (if needed). 

With the combination of Kufema’s donated equipment and technical know-how, trained COVID response teams can quickly spot and treat patients with breathing difficulties. This means paramedics can undertake basic diagnosis and oxygen therapy treatment in the community, in people’s homes, clinics or ambulances. It’s a cost effective solution and a triple win: saving oxygen, helping patients get earlier treatment (leading to a quicker recovery in most cases) and keeping many patients away from hospitals which reduces burdens on health workers and hospitals. 

Kufema is positioned to respond quickly and effectively to the changing dynamics of COVID. We have incredible engineers, advice from top doctors (we’ve a medical advisory committee guiding us), a national network of coordinators, and the ability to bootstrap and remain agile in our response, as the situation demands. 

Working in COVID hotspots: Harare and beyond – thanks to you!

Kufema’s first donations of equipment and training for response teams focused on Harare, as it’s currently the area with the highest number of active cases. This is where your donations have been put to good use, and we want to send you a big thank you, tatenda, siyabonga! 

We now plan to continue building capacity and donating critical medical equipment to national COVID response teams in other parts of the country, and to do this we urgently need your support. 

At present this campaign is our only source of funding – we’re stretching every contribution as far as we can in our mission to save lives and help people breathe.

We urgently need your financial support.

Please hit the donate button, contribute what you can, and share our campaign with your friends, colleagues & family. We need all hands on deck. We are all in this together. Together we’re saving lives and helping Zimbabwe breathe. Please join us!
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Fundraising team: Kufema Zimbabwe (6)

Juliet Le Breton
Amy H
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Binka Le Breton
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Lauren Wigmore
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Linda Warren
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