By Oluwafunke Ishola
A tech start-up, Naija Force, has devised a mechanism to produce a surgical-grade face mask that would solve global challenges and support crucial preventive measures in public health.
Ifedayo Ojo, team leader, Naija Force, revealed this in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos.
NAN reports that the Naija Force team won the “ Mass’k Appeal Award ” and finished second in a global competition hosted by the XPRIZE Next-Gen Mask Challenge, winning a $ 250,000 grant for mask production .
The competition is a $ 1 million challenge, which aims to reimagine the protective masks used to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by making the masks more comfortable, functional, accessible and stylish.
The competition received approximately 1,000 entries from 76 countries.
He encouraged teams to design a face mask that overcomes at least five of the top ten barriers to wearing the mask.
Common barriers to mask use include: fogging of glasses, overheating, discomfort, difficulty breathing, making conversations difficult, and prohibiting exercise while wearing.
Other barriers are improper fit, pain, blocked facial expressions, not being able to eat or drink, not being environmentally friendly, looking ugly or boring, and difficulty to acquire the mask.
The members of the Naija Force team are Ifedayo Ojo, an industrial product designer; Samuel Akinola, UX researcher and designer and Arotiba Ayobami, business relations manager.
Ojo said the team would work with top pulmonologists, John Hopkins University, the United States and other partners in producing the mask that would be useful beyond COVID-19.
He said using innovative technology to improve masks would redefine the standard for mask-wearing behavior and help maintain crucial non-pharmaceutical public health measures to mitigate the risk and impact of the pandemic.
“Masks have been proven to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, reduce the total number of infections, severe cases or deaths.
“The Naija Force mask has a flexible, malleable strap that can conform to the shape of the wearer’s nose.
“This mask is not intended to be a one-size-fits-all, but it is available in different sizes to accommodate the unique contours and shapes of the face.
“Not being able to exercise with face masks is the result of a combination of issues like breathability, fit and comfort that our mask effectively addresses,” he said.
According to him, the mask has an openable drinking inlet, through which straws can be inserted for drinking, thus ensuring minimal contact with the naked face.
Ojo noted that adjusting to life with COVID-19 was a challenge facing everyone around the world, saying scalable solutions that would help people live normally and reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19 were crucial. .
He said as the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine continues globally, it is essential to adhere to non-pharmaceutical interventions to minimize the disruption that could result from a third or fourth wave of COVID-19.
He added that the mission of the Naija Force was to provide solutions to global challenges, to familiarize the world with the potential of Nigerian youth and to increase the competitiveness of the country.
Ojo called on federal and state governments to increase funding for research and development.
He stressed that local solutions and innovations should be applied to challenges in all sectors.
“Doing this will improve scientific progress, innovation, product development, poverty reduction and socio-economic growth.” (NOPE)
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