Getting vials of vaccines to remote places where they’re needed can be a difficult undertaking, especially given the need to store them at the correct temperature during the journey when there’s no access to electricity.

That’s where the Vaccibox comes in.

It’s a solar-powered fridge designed for transporting vaccines to “off the grid” areas that is really coming into its own in Africa.

Rachael Munyau has worked as a nurse at Merrueshi Health Centre in Kajiado, Kenya. for three years.

In the past, she had to use other methods – like a cooler box filled with ice – to take vaccines to remote villages.

But once the ice melted, the temperature inside would rise and spoil the contents. Now, she uses a Vaccibox.

“It is with this Vaccibox that we have been using to transport vaccines from one facility to another. Like when we go to collect them from the main collection centre, and bring them to the health centre, we use it to store them,” she said.

“The vaccines that are stored there are the vaccines that we use for under-fives; the polio vaccine, the pneumonia vaccine, the measles vaccines, the BCG [Bacillus Calmette–Guérin used to vaccinate against Tuberculosis], the DPT [which vaccinates against diphtheria, whooping cough, and tetanus] and many others even the tetanus toxoid vaccine.

Even during the night, and times of very little sun, the fridge is still able to continue operating to keep vaccines cold.

Norah Magero CEO, Drop Access

“It is in the same Vaccibox where we store the COVID-19 vaccine which we use to vaccinate people who come to the facility,” she added.

“And there are times where maybe we are needed maybe to go into the village that there is somebody who couldn’t come to the facility, we use the Vaccibox and a motorbike and transverse our way to the village and vaccinate that person”.

How the Vaccibox works

Electricity connection has remained a challenge in developing countries, especially in Africa. It makes the transportation of perishable goods – like vaccines – difficult.

It was this problem that inspired engineer Norah Magero to invent the Vaccibox.She’s also the CEO of Drop Access, an organisation that specialises in finding sustainable solutions for supporting rural and off-grid communities in Kenya.

Initially, she was approached by a group of dairy farmers who were looking for a solution to transport their milk to the market without it going bad.