Reaching the nomadic communities who roam the arid and hot Sahel of Africa with vaccines has always posed an exceptional challenge to health workers, particularly because vaccines need to be refrigerated. (See past posts on the Ice Battery.) National immunization programs to eliminate serious diseases like polio and measles rarely benefit pastoralist communities in Kenyan districts like Laikipia and Samburu, nor do those communities often get access other medications requiring refrigeration.
In the last two years, a team of designers, health workers, and development experts from Designmatters at the Art Center College of Design, Princeton’s Institute of Science and Technology of Materials, and the Mpala Community Trust has conceived and rolled out a clever mobile, refrigerated health clinic using solar energy and camels. While the mobile health clinic still relies on vehicles to carry the supplies to the camels, once they're loaded up the camels transport supplies to remote areas, where local health staff travel by bicycle and foot between camel camps and communities.
In transit, the lightweight, foldable solar panel powers the camel-pack refrigeration system. Once the camel convoy arrives at the remote health clinic site, the panel can be used in combination with larger solar panels to provide power for the health clinic. A foot-powered system provides backup and provides light in the clinic during extended operational hours when solar power is not available.
While nomadic communities have long used camels for transport, the team had to design a new frame for the camels, with a tighter fit that so that the camels could easily carry the solar panels.
The partnership originated in a proposal, Integrated Mobile Health Clinics for Remote Communities in Kenya, which was selected from more than 2,900 projects as one of the 105 finalists in the 2007 World Bank Development Marketplace competition. :: Via Trendhunter
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