This week is World Immunization Week and the theme is ‘A Long Life for All’. Its ultimate goal is to promote the need for more people to be protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.
Vaccines have been saving lives since 1796, when an English doctor, Edward Jenner showed how injecting a small dose of harmless (to humans) cowpox virus could provide immunity against deadly smallpox. The last recorded case of smallpox anywhere in the world was in 1997 – vaccination has eradicated the disease.
Immunization has since contributed hugely to preventing deaths from a host of illnesses – especially those that occur during childhood – and to dramatic rises in life expectancy and economic development. According to the World Health Organisation, every $1 invested in immunization returns an estimated $16 in health-care savings and increased economic productivity.
Why the cold chain is crucial
Vaccines need to be stored within a limited low temperature range from the time they are manufactured until the moment of vaccination, otherwise the vaccine loses its potency. This need for a refrigerated, end to end cold chain can be a major challenge for areas with an unreliable electricity supply, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
In the early 1980s, pioneering Dulas engineers invented solar powered blood banks for use in countries without a reliable electrical grid supply. They then went on to develop the very first solar powered vaccine refrigerators for use in remote locations across the globe.
Today our factory in West Sussex designs, manufactures and exports thousands of solar direct drive vaccine refrigerators annually. Our SDD and mains powered refrigerators ensure that vaccines remain at the precise temperature required to remain viable and are used for both routine immunization programmes and to support humanitarian aid projects globally. With no reliance on electricity supply whatsoever, they can be installed in the most remote locations and make a huge impact to the communities living in those areas.
We would not be able to do all this without the help of our fully-trained and accredited in-country partners who go above and beyond to distribute our vaccine refrigerators to the last mile. Our passionate team of technical experts work alongside our partners to deliver our comprehensive installation and maintenance training programme to Ministry of Health cold chain technicians and healthcare workers. This helps support in-country capacity building and ensures our refrigerator systems are looked after well into the future.
According to UNICEF, more than 1.5m people die annually from diseases that can be prevented by vaccination, many of them children. It’s our aim at Dulas to help bring that number down, year on year. Over 2.5bn children have been vaccinated since the year 2000, but there is still a lot of work to do. By combining our knowledge, experience and passion, our mission is to continue to contribute to saving lives around the world.