The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has been installing solar powered refrigerators in Haiti to keep vaccines cool.
Parts of the earthquake ravaged country still lack reliable electricity sources, making it difficult to keep important vaccines in the right conditions for use.
Fridges can be powered by gas, which doesn’t require electricity, but it is not always possible to transport heavy gas tanks across long distances, especially if roads are damaged.
“The old refrigerators used gas, and sometimes the vaccines would go bad because we ran out of gas,” says Suzette Beliard, a community health worker in the rural town of Rossignol.
That’s why UNICEF has brought 153 solar powered fridges to the country, including one to the local health centre where Ms. Beliard works.
“The solar refrigerator is very important, because it means the vaccines are always available,” says Ms. Beliard. “[W]e always have vaccines available for children.”
Immunization is one of the most successful and cost-effective ways to avoid disease, averting around two to three million deaths from diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and measles each year.
These fridges mean that thousands of children in rural areas will be able to receive vaccines that have been kept reliably cool thanks to the sun’s plentiful rays.