The vehicle uses renewable energy to solve inoculation’s cold chain challenge
Rural communities in Zimbabwe’s Goromonzi district, some 40km northeast of Harare, are being serviced with a taxi converted into a mobile health clinic, complete with a wind turbine and solar panels to keep a freezer running where vaccines can be stored.
The “ZimbosAbantu healthcare on wheels” clinic is inoculating children against typhoid but is hoping to also start administering Covid-19 vaccines soon.
Tawanda Mushawedu, 38, founder and CEO of Regain 37, a social enterprise behind “ZimbosAbantu”, built the mobile clinic and started operating with a mobile medical team at the peak of Zimbabwe’s second wave of the pandemic in February 2021.
“About 40% of Zimbabweans in the underserved communities still walk for more than 5km to access primary healthcare. It was this realisation that gave birth to the idea, compounded by the pandemic. The majority who have to endure the long walks are women and children,” said Mushawedu.
Equipped with tables for consultations, lab work and vaccinations and a dispensary handing out drugs, the mobile clinic is powered by a wind turbine and solar panels mounted on the vehicle’s roof, providing 1,000 Watts of renewable energy.
“The wind turbine generates 400W while the solar panels generate 600W of energy. In total we generate 1,000W of renewable energy. We use that power on the go and in off-grid areas, to power the 190-litre vaccine freezer, telemedicine platform, internet modem and devices for the doctor’s virtual consultation room and the general clinic functionalities,” he said.
Zimbabwe recently launched a new vaccine campaign, introducing the typhoid conjugate vaccine into routine childhood immunisation. The campaign targets more than six million children aged nine months to below 15 years across the country. The ZimbosAbantu mobile clinic has been inoculating children across the country.A mobile health clinic in Zimbabwe using solar power to keep a freezer running where vaccines can be stored.
Mushawedu said the mobile clinic, still in its pilot phase, had been received well by the community amid some suspicion.
“The 190-litre renewable energy powered mobile vaccine freezer has temperature control of up to -37ºC. We have already inoculated more than 6,000 children under the typhoid conjugate vaccine campaign in partnership with local district hospitals. We are keen on inoculating the Covid-19 vaccines especially in large companies, farms and mines to keep the employees productive without having to leave their work stations.”
The mobile clinic has a medical team on board providing medical consultations. Dr Gracious Bvepfepfe, a medical practitioner who works in the ZimbosAbantu mobile clinic, said mobile healthcare delivery played an important role in effectively supporting underserved populations during the pandemic.
“It’s paramount to have the continuity of mobile clinics with Covid restrictions and not many people are able to access a doctor, especially when hard lockdowns are enforced, leaving the people in rural areas with limited access to healthcare. Patients have embraced the initiative. They are alerted before our visit, and on the day they wake up early to be served. They are most grateful and appreciative because of the times we are living in,” said Bvepfepfe.
Source: Times Live