Technology is at the forefront of helping people globally adjust as we all navigate the new normal. Nexmed Healthcare Solutions, the strategic partner to UV-D Robots and GoBe Robots for sub-Saharan Africa, is bringing some of the most cutting edge of these new technologies here.

Among those that have arrived is the UV-D Robot. It is able to decontaminate 18 000m² in two-and-a-half hours – that’s two-and-a-half football pitches in less time than it takes to play two football matches.

With the current pandemic severely overstretching hospitals and making our shared spaces no-go areas, an intervention such as this is a game-changer.

Jonathan Burger, Nexmed’s Chief Executive Officer, says: “We manage the entire process end to end – from importation, to delivery, to training, installation, testing and commissioning. With the current pandemic and lockdown, we have successfully completed autonomous installations.

“The UV-D Robots are highly effective in destroying pathogens, including the coronavirus and is thus a highly effective instrument in decontaminating hospitals up to 99.999%. This assists, not only now with the coronavirus pandemic, but post-Covid-19 with a host of other serious superbugs such as MRSA, VRE, CRE, Candida, C Diff, Pseudomonas and more.”

How does it work?

The robots are equipped with UV-C light which is germicidal. This means it deactivates the DNA of bacteria, virus and other pathogens and thus destroys their ability to multiply and cause disease. In short, when the organism tries to replicate, it dies.

To put it into perspective the robot, once programmed with the layout of, say, a surgical theatre, can decontaminate it autonomously in just over eight minutes. This means, there is no need for workers to endanger themselves by going into a potentially contaminated area and the process has a significant impact on the reduction of hospital acquired infections (HAI) with some international counterparts seeing between a 40% and 80% reduction in HAI’s, says Burger.

Consider this, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Birmingham in the UK and the University of Cape Town (UCT), in SA around 146 000 surgeries will be cancelled – including 12 000 oncology procedures – due to the pandemic.

“Each additional week of disruption to hospital services results in an additional 12 000 surgeries being cancelled,” wrote Professor Bruce Biccard, second chair in the department of anaesthesia and perioperative medicine at the UCT in a recent article.

Its applications for a time such as this – and beyond – are legion.

Says Burger: “The main objectives of the UV-D Robot is to drastically reduce harmful pathogens in a particular area, thereby actively contributing significantly to a safer environment for the people, whether this is in a hospital setting, or commercial setting, or a school, a hotel or an airport. There is no limit to where the UV-D Robot can be used, provided proper safety is adhered to.”

Fast-tracking Africa’s digital transformation

Burger says that Nexmed’s motto is “caring through innovation”.

“Our mission is to always represent, invent, develop or co-create solutions that impact the health of individuals positively, whether that be exclusively in healthcare or farther reaching.

“As a company we are excited to bring best-in-class technologies to Africa as they emerge internationally, or at the same time locally produce such disruptive innovation. We are looking to play a significant part in fast-tracking Africa’s exposure and adoption to digital transformation for the overall benefit of advancing healthcare.”

Another of Nexmed’s technologies is the GoBe One Telepresence Robot. Its main purpose, says Burger, is to connect individuals seamlessly while maintaining the human touch.

“Given the new ‘work from home’ strategy to be adopted by a large part of the workforce, many individuals still require to be hands-on within their premises, to have meetings, to have insight into their facilities and to communicate as if they were there. The GoBe One allows this.

“It has a very special application in healthcare whereby it will assist healthcare providers in virtual/autonomous consultations thereby reducing their exposure to any harmful pathogens. Due to virtual/autonomous consultations the healthcare provider will need to utilise less personal protective equipment (PPE) thereby reducing the need.

  • 50+ – the number of countries globally that use the UV-D robot
  • 99.999% – the percentage of harmful pathogens the UV-D robot kills
  • Eight minutes – the length of time the robot takes to decontaminate an average surgical theatre
  • 146 000 – the number of surgeries estimated to have been cancelled in South Africa due to the pandemic
  • “We have seen a significant burden placed on the sourcing and providing of PPE, particularly in our public facilities. The GoBe One will therefore aid in saving lives by reducing pathogen exposure.”

The GoBe One will launch in 33 days in Europe and in Africa at the same time thanks to Nexmed and GoBe Robot’s partnership.

For Burger, bringing the technology to the continent was about improving the care patients receive as well as make the experience of caregiving safer.

The UV-D robot is used in more than 50 countries spanning the globe already and he believes its time is now in Africa.

“I believe both the UV-D Robot and GoBe Robot are geared for a time like this. If we understand the significant challenges we face to maintain decontamination [not sanitisation] and social distancing in hospitals and in the workplace, we realise that both of these devices offer immense value as an ally in achieving these goals, and assisting the workforce in maintaining a safe environment for all.”

A short history of Nexmed’s robots

UV-D Robots ApS was founded in 2016 by Blue Ocean Robotics with the objective of globally commercialising robots based on UV disinfection solutions for hospitals, hence the name.

The incorporation of the company followed a private-public innovation project starting in 2014, where Blue Ocean Robotics and the Odense University Hospital (OUH), in partnership with other hospitals in Denmark, developed the first prototype of the UV-Disinfection Robot (UV-D Robot), with the objective of preventing hospital acquired infections (HAIs) for the benefit of patients, hospital staff and associated healthcare costs.

By Gayle Edmunds