As Poslovni Dnevnik/Lucija Spiljak writes on the 8th of May, 2020, a group of a dozen innovators who have come together owing to the internet portal Pandemija.info, volunteer day and night to make Croatian respirators for the protection of health professionals, and this Croatian product is perhaps best known as CroResp.
“We designed a respirator that protects the whole face, and most importantly – the eyes and the airways. The respirator is made of a diving mask, an adapter and a virus filter “, explained Dr. Ivor Kovic, an emergency medicine specialist and the initiator of both the portal and the initiative. He stated that despite the fact that they don’t have official certificates for the use of these respirators in protection against coronavirus, they believe that this solution provides people with greater protection than surgical masks in combination with protective visors.
Hundreds of healthcare professionals have so far requested this Croatian product, and a large number are already being distributed in Croatian hospitals and institutions.
“Although the situation is calming down in Croatia, it’s important for medics to be looked after properly because, regardless of the number of patients, they can still become infected and spread the infection without proper protective equipment,” warned Kovic. Most orders for this innovative Croatian product are coming from Zagreb, Osijek, Rijeka and Split, and the feedback from doctors and nurses who already use them has been positive.
The team has been counting orders in the thousands, while they also launched a campaign through the crowdfunding platform Croinvest and the association Helping is always in/ Pomaganje je uvijek in. They collected more than 150,000 kuna donated by the citizens, which was needed to supply the first 1,000 health workers with these respirators. The campaign is still ongoing, and at the time of writing, more than 195,000 kuna for this Croatian product has so far been raised.
Helping colleagues through the Pandemija.info portal
“It’s uncertain how the pandemic will develop, and CroResp has the ability to protect healthcare workers from the virus in the long run,” said Kovic, who went on to talk about how abd where it all started.
Seven years ago, he and his wife, who is also a doctor, moved to the UK where they worked together in various hospitals, and when he temporarily returned to Croatia, the number of infected people began to grow, and examples from neighbouring Italy showed what was happening with the collapse of the health system there. When the couple landed, they had to go into mandatory self-isolation, and Kovic was thinking about how to help his colleagues during that period. This is how the Pandemija.info portal was created, which he started up with several friends and associates.
”We’ve published educational materials and fast, verified, accurate and professional information for our medics who are under pressure and who need proper preparation. We soon published about 20 different summaries, posters, infographics, with information on the standard of masks, how to use them properly etc. Colleagues from Croatia and abroad started sending us materials, we followed everything that was happening in the world and realised that there was a global lack of protective equipment,” explained Kovic.
The creators of this Croatian product work entirely voluntarily
The work of this Croatian team is completely voluntary and open, so they’re not thinking about patenting the product or creating a business from this situation, because at the same time, they’re actively fighting against those who are trying to use the current situation for their own profit.
“From the beginning, we knew that the dynamics of this would depend on what kind of support we will have, what kind of interest there will be and how we will be able to finance it. In the end, it happened that we didn’t have any official confirmation; we’re not an association and we don’t have an account, but we have people who write to us every day and ask for respirators. We couldn’t leave them stranded when we’d already ‘tickled’ them with the fact that such a solution exists,” he explained.
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