Saleh Al-Harishawi collects oxygen bottles after distributing all of them to those with the Corona pandemic who are lying in their homes in Maysan Governorate (southeastern Iraq), and he rearranges the yard of his family’s home, in which piles of various tools were gathered. He supplied them to hospitals and those in their homes, due to the increase in the number of injured and insufficient medical supplies in the governorate.
Al-Harishawi, 35, is an Iraqi young man who was able to collect and convert some simple tools into respirators to fill the severe shortage in oxygen bottles that the country has suffered from in the past months, despite his simple academic achievement and his field of work far from health, using available and cheap raw materials and connecting them to oxygen tubes and distributing them to Hospitals and people with corona free of charge.
Al-Harishawi says, “The idea of manufacturing respirators was born after one of my friends working in the health field complained about the depletion of these devices due to the increase in cases of Coronavirus, so I tried to provide assistance by buying some of them, but most of them ran out and their prices rose sooner than that, so I asked him to bring one of them. And explain how it works. “
Al-Harishawi asked for help from his friends to open a small workshop. His family’s house, located in one of the popular neighborhoods in the city of Amara (Maysan governorate center), was chosen to provide a backyard as an outlet for the family containing a garden and to provide the necessary supplies for work.
Al-Harishawi faced many troubles at the beginning, most of which were manifested by the lack of successful alternatives to the tools for making the device and the failure of many of them, but the persistence and continuing to work with his friends was one of the biggest factors of his success in making hundreds of alternative respirators, and this was not the first obstacle in his path. Another problem faced by him was the high prices of alternatives, which suddenly increased demand for them.
“I devoted all my time to making devices and spent most of my savings on purchasing alternative raw materials, forcing me to stop,” says Al-Harishawi.
He added, “I was responsible for the manufacture and my friends for distribution, and after the people of the city knew that I would stop working because of my savings, they took the initiative to support me financially and buy the materials I need in manufacturing the devices.”
Metal tubes, screwdrivers, plastic cups, ready-made masks and small metal parts of various sizes are all the essential parts that a Harishawi needs to manufacture his devices.
“We were only able to overcome the ordeal through community solidarity that the people of the province and its youth wrote, and I am only one of the young people who took a serious stand and provided the oxygen and basic supplies needed by the quarantined people in homes after their infection with Corona,” he says.
The medical center specialized in treating Corona in the city of Amara, after its conversion from a hospital for children and childbirth to a treatment and quarantine center for those infected with the pandemic, has received more than 18,000 cases since the outbreak of the disease was announced in the city at the beginning of last March, and nearly 445 people died as a result of infection with the virus, according to Statistics of the Iraqi Ministry of Health.
Many people infected with the virus did not receive direct health care due to the large number of infections and the lack of vacancies in the medical center.
Abbas Fadel, head of the “Doctors Without Pay” organization in the city of Amara, says that community organizations and activists have contributed to providing oxygen bottles and the necessary treatments for the injured, especially at the height of the virus’s spread to relieve pressure on hospitals and Corona diagnostic centers in the governorate.
Fadel pointed out that “many of the injured preferred to quarantine themselves in their homes and seek the help of community organizations and activists in the governorate to provide many treatment supplies, including oxygen bottles and blood oxygen meters, and sometimes providing treatment, especially for the needy and poor families who live below the poverty line and who live in slums, because of Their difficult financial conditions. “