Stratos Product Development

19 May 2014

Africa: Delivering Life-Saving Vaccines to Villages in Rural Africa

press release

Globally, 22 million infants still aren't receiving basic vaccines. 1.5 million children will die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases before they reach age five. The challenge is further-complicated by the fact that most vaccines must be refrigerated, and more than a billion people globally don't have reliable access to electricity. Vaccination rates are lowest in remote and rural locations. Health posts is small locations that are off the power grid cannot provide a reliable supply to the world's biggest need.

As part of Intellectual Ventures' Global Good program, Intellectual Ventures Lab (IVL) approached Stratos Product Development for help in designing an insulated container to strengthen and extend vaccination services in Africa. Stratos took IVL's vacuum technology to create a device suitable for the unique challenges it would face. The resulting Passive Vaccine Storage Device (PVSD) is designed to keep vaccines at the appropriate temperatures for a month or more with repeated vaccine retrievals and no need for electricity. To do this, the device relies on only a single batch of ice.

The PVSD's are being used in the field today to bring life-saving vaccines to thousands of children. There is no other product that can deliver similar hold time performance on the market today. The device needed to be transportable and have the ability to keep vaccines cold in relatively hot environments as well as carry enough vaccinations to treat 20+ children per one month deployment. The targeted regions for deployment had little to no power infrastructure and the device needed to maintain electrical and thermal charge during its entire 30+ day deployment. And, as the name of the device implies, it is a passive system once deployed.

  • The PVSD provides 35 to 50 days (depending on temperature) of cool storage with no electricity, only ice.
  • The PVSD supplies vaccines and cool storage to areas that did not or could not have them before.
  • The PVSD can store up to 300 doses of vaccines or enough to serve a community of 6,000 for more than a month.
  • The PVSD provides an 'Enduring Presence' that has a lower cost per dose delivered than expensive outreach campaigns. Furthermore, behavior changes when mothers know there is a reliable supply.
  • Unlike existing cold boxes, it can store vaccine for a month rather than 4 days. Unlike solar refrigerators, it is cheaper and is zero maintenance, critical in developing countries.
  • The device is equipped with simple SMS technology to monitor its location, internal temperature and number of times vaccines have been retrieved from it.

Previously, in order to receive vaccines, individuals may have to walk many hours if they were able to receive the vaccines at all. While these individuals may have understood that vaccines were important, receiving the vaccines was practically infeasible if not impossible. With the new devices in place, the vaccines are now more readily accessible to more populations, and more children are able to be vaccinated.

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