In the CDC's - (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's) - document on vaccine storage and handling, they argue that there are few immunization issues more important than the appropriate handling and storage of vaccines.
The most critical factor for storage is temperature, with vaccines needing to be stored at between 35°F and 46°F to maintain effectiveness. CDC believe that maintaining the 'cold chain' is so important that they advise that it is better not to vaccinate a patient at all, than it is to administer a dose of vaccine that has been mishandled.
In some of the third world countries where Econet - the international telecommunications group - operate, maintaining the cold chain is a serious problem, since the temperatures are often high, and rural hospitals can face frequent and lengthy power outages.
Having realized that their Base Station infrastructure generates excess power, Econet Wireless launched the initiative “Energize the Chain”. Through this initiative, Econet Wireless donates hi-tech vaccine fridges to rural hospitals in the areas in which they operate. These fridges are able to maintain low temperatures for up to ten days when there is no source of power at all. This ten day period of grace, significantly reduces the amount of vaccine that is corrupted in rural areas of the third world. Econet Wireless provides the technology necessary to monitor the units via the internet, as well as formal training to hospital staff about the proper use of the equipment.
Through the “Energize the Chain” initiative, Econet Wireless is hoping to significantly reduce the contraction of the deadliest 5 diseases for children around the world; Measles, Polio, Diphtheria, Whooping Cough and Tetanus.
Read more about Econet's vaccine storage centers here.