Vaccine Temperature Tracker
Real-time GPS and temperature tracking through an
IoT Integrated Vaccine Carrier
Problem and Background
While global immunization rates have risen significantly in the past decade, 36% of the effective shelf life of six of the most administered vaccines spoil due to inefficient vaccine storage. Cold-chain vaccines must be stored between 2oC - 8oC. However, keeping vaccines at its viable temperature is a challenge for regions with high temperatures that lack the correct refrigeration infrastructure. Furthermore, the cold-chain supply chain proves to be a challenge not only at the site of administration and storage of the vaccines but also during the transportation of the products. Last-mile delivery is usually done by hand, with a health employer carrying the vaccine carrier box to the administration site. No current system allows real-time temperature monitoring to ensure that the vaccines are viable at the final delivery point and to understand where the cold-chain cycle breaks.
Before coming to Duke, I enrolled in the Global Health FOCUS program, a year-long live-in and learning community, in order to help understand how the current challenges faced in global health epidemics are being combated. Through a class on designing for the developing world, I was shocked to find out that a majority of health equipment donated to developing nations goes to waste due to a lack of maintenance. I wanted to focus and learn more about how to design in developing economies, with solutions that are technologically savvy but also useful and viable in that environment. At the same time, I wanted to explore the idea of innovation based on user need for a particular community rather than making something new because it is new. During my sophomore year at Duke, I was fortunate to take a class called Transcontinental Design, where I spearheaded the creation of a vaccine tracker alongside a team of engineers from Duke and Makerere University in Kampala. I was later able to travel to Uganda to establish partnerships and test the device through funding from Duke Bass connections and then distinguished as a Pratt Grand Challenge Scholar for my continued contributions. I have also received Red Hat’s 2019 Woman in Open Source Award for the code behind this project.
Open Soruce Contribution
Field Testing in Uganda
In Spring of 2017, I was able to travel to Kampala, Uganda for two weeks to assess interest in the product as well as conduct a preliminary field test of the product. Through meeting various leads in pharmaceutical companies, heads of NGOs, health officials, and doctors in the area—our team garnered interest in our product and established partnerships with key organizations and stakeholders, allowing for the products’ eventual launch in the region. We were also able to field test the vaccine carrier tracker by using it in action from a health center in Wakiso, Uganda to a delivery spot. Later looking at the data, and proving the efficacy of our real-time tracking In a simulated setting. This was a successful test and proved the usefulness of the device.