With this support, the project will build a shelter for a health centre in Malawi and procure environmentally friendly cooling equipment
Medication – especially vaccines – have to be kept cool, or they become ineffective. Transporting vaccines from where they are produced to where they are needed, often takes place in many stages. A challenge for uninterrupted cooling. The emmunize project addresses exactly this issue. By combining reliable and environmentally friendly cooling devices with a digital tool for continuous temperature monitoring in the cold chain, it aims to ensure efficient immunisation in rural areas.
The project is now backed by the Merck Family Foundation. "The foundation of a family that has been actively involved in health care for 352 years naturally has a great interest in health projects," states Dr. Walter Huber, Managing Director at Merck Family Foundation. "And it didn’t take a new pandemic to make us aware of the huge importance of vaccines for public health. Vaccinations have been the success factors in the fight against polio or measles. And this fight starts for anew every year. Now with a new contributor: emmunize."
With the Foundation's support, a shelter for the vaccination of children under 5 years of age is being built at the Bilira Health Centre in the Ntcheu district of Malawi. In addition, equipment for a reliable cold chain will be procured. This includes a solar-powered refrigerator (SolarChill), transport boxes for vaccines as well as tablets and Bluetooth sensors to monitor the temperature inside the boxes. The equipment is to be installed at the Bilira health centre in early 2021. After installation, training courses will be provided on the use and maintenance of the equipment to ensure its long-term operation.
Providing access to cooling equipment comes with substantial benefits. Effective vaccines ensure healthy people. Healthy people are able to contribute to create healthy societies. At the same time, cooling equipment must not harm the environment and should be affordable to run.
Solar Direct Drive (SDD) refrigerators like the SolarChill run purely on solar power. Batteries are not required as they store thermal energy in ice banks once solar power is scarce. The stored energy can keep temperatures low for multiple days without power supply. Running on natural refrigerants, such as hydrocarbons that do not harm the ozone layer nor extensively contribute to global warming, SDD refrigerators are a prime solution for remote and under-resourced areas.