Using Coke Distribution Networks to Get Medicine to Rural Villages


Image: Screenshot via ColaLife

ColaLife has a simple but smart idea: use the distribution networks already established for Coca Cola drinks, which are available in the most remote parts of the world, to get "social products" like oral rehydration salts to these same areas. Coke is available in the areas, but the simplest of medicines usually aren't, and rural populations have devastatingly high mortality rates from very treatable things like diarrhea. ColaLife explains:

You can buy a Coca-Cola virtually anywhere in developing countries but in these same places 1 in 5 children die before their 5th birthday from simple, preventable causes like dehydration from diarrhoea.

ColaLife, an independent non-profit, is working with Coca-Cola to open their distribution channels in developing countries to carry 'social products' - oral rehydration salts, high-dose vitamin A, water purification tablets - to save children's lives.

The focus will be on the diarrhea treatment kit, which includes information for mothers on what to do, and how, when their children get diarrhea.

They'll do all of this using the AidPod model: a wedge-shaped container that fits between the necks of bottles in Coca Cola crates, which reach their destination by almost any means possible, including by bike. Because Coke already has a system for distribution far more thorough and widespread than virtually any product in the world, and because as ColaLife founder Simon Berry points out, it will never be economic to create a dedicated distribution network that reaches these most rural areas—the idea is to piggyback the distribution of medicine onto the backs of Coke products.

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Image: Simon Berry via flickr
TreeHugger has written about ColaLife before, but there've been some developments since then: founder Simon Berry has spoken at a TEDx conference, the initiative has started a pilot program in Zambia, and Coca Cola seems to be more willing to actively participate.

Keep up with progress on this project at the ColaLife blog and on Facebook.

More on Coca Cola:
Can Coke Save Lives?
Innocent Drinks Sells (Out?) Some More to Coca Cola
Top Beverage Companies Receive Mediocre, Failing Grades for Recycling Efforts
Big Woop Dept: Coca Cola Unveils Compost-Friendly Fountain Cup

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