Uneswa Hand Sanitizer

Instrumental Access Scientist in Eswatini Joins COVID-19 Response

Announcements, Blog, Impact, Instrumental Access 2019, Scientist Success Stories 2 Comments

Pictured above: Dr. Thabile Ndlovu (left) presents hand sanitizer produced at the University of Eswatini to Vice-Chancellor Prof. Justice Thwala. (Photo safely taken before social distancing was implemented.)

The first case of COVID-19 was confirmed on March 14 in Eswatini, a small, landlocked country in southern Africa formerly known as Swaziland.

What followed is familiar: people raced to buy essentials like hand sanitizer, and stocks were quickly depleted.

Dr Thabile Ndlovu

Dr. Thabile Ndlovu

Dr. Thabile Ndlovu, Head of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Eswatini and an Instrumental Access awardee, realized that she could help.

She approached her university leadership with her idea: use their lab infrastructure to mass produce hand sanitizer, and bolster pandemic response in their community.

With the University’s support, Dr. Ndlovu assembled an enthusiastic force of biologists, chemists, and pharmacists from across the Faculty of Science.

Thanks to the shipment of Instrumental Access equipment that arrived on campus just a month ago, Dr. Ndlovu and team had the lab instruments they needed to undertake this important project.

Uneswa producing hand sanitizer

The University of Eswatini team working in the lab to produce hand sanitizer and help their community respond to COVID-19 in early March.

Dr. Ndlovu’s team followed the WHO’s recommended formulation to mass produce hand sanitizer. The result: an estimated 100 liters (around 26 gallons)! 

Hand Sanitizer

Dr. Thabile Ndlovu’s multidisciplinary team of scientists at the University of Eswatini produced about 100 liters of hand sanitizer when local shops ran out!

“The response has been overwhelming and the nation has supported us,” Dr. Ndlovu says.

However, raw materials needed to produce more hand sanitizer are becoming scarce--including ethanol, a key ingredient. Prices are soaring as demand increases.

“Now is a time when people have to come together and fight this, as well as protect each other,” says Dr. Ndlovu. “I feel that as scientists, this is the least we can do.”

Melissa P Wu

Melissa P. Wu

“Scientists work hand in hand with healthcare systems to safeguard public health, and now that connection is more important than ever,” says Melissa P. Wu, PhD, CEO of Seeding Labs.

Seeding Labs’ Instrumental Access program provides scientists like Dr. Ndlovu with the tools they need to address critical scientific challenges, including emerging threats like COVID-19.

One of the many benefits to strengthening scientific capacity worldwide is enabling local, rapid responses to both short- and long-term challenges. Now more than ever, the world can’t afford to let any scientific talent go to waste.

We are proud to learn of scientists at other Instrumental Access awardee universities joining in the COVID-19 pandemic response by producing hand sanitizer for their communities:

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Comments 2

  1. We scientist in the department of Medical laboratory Science, Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo state, Nigeria could only produce a small quantity of hand sanitizer for the members of the department and few other persons outside the department due to shortage of material especially ethanol. We will be glad if we are assisted in producing as there a growing spread of this virus in Nigeria especially Edo State. Also we are embarking on producing self made face mask but still negotiating for materials.

  2. In the University of Port Harcourt, Faculty of Science, Department of Plant Science and Biotechnology, Rivers State, Nigeria, The plant scientists here have knowledge of Herbal teas known to have chemotherapeutic effects on infectious diseases including those caused by viruses.
    The main challenge here is that it require huge financial assistance to get these produced and require drug enforcement agencies for inspection and approval. All these stages require funding.
    The herbs used are blood cleansers and immune boasters.
    Equipment that would be of great help are: Driers used at room temperatures on herbs, Paper tea sachets making machines for filtering herbs, Blenders, Weighing instruments in grams, etc.

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