Dulas, a leading British solar refrigeration manufacturer and renewable energy specialist, has carried out a training programme in Myanmar for Ministry of Health technicians. The programme has been completed as part of Dulas' supply package of its World Health Organisation (WHO) accredited VC200 Solar Direct Drive (SDD) vaccine refrigerators, to enable health workers to make the most of the technology, and ensure vaccines are kept at optimum temperatures.
Myanmar has seen $156.5 million invested in vaccination programmes over the last 16 years. However, in order to ensure the continued efficacy of these vaccinations, there is a significant demand for a supporting cold-chain infrastructure that protects the vaccines from overheating, and thus becoming unusable.
Due to the conditions at some of the country's more remote locations, a solution for keeping the cold chain powered is by utilising off-grid, energy-efficient technology and a sufficient renewable energy source such as the sun. The recent supply of 25 VC200 SDD solar powered vaccine refrigerators will provide health workers with the cold chain storage required to keep vaccines at optimum temperatures. This will play a vital role in the mission to save children's lives and protect people's health by increasing access to immunisation.
The training was part of a wider project lead by the country's Ministry of Health in alignment with GAVI's mission to achieve 100% immunisation across the country. The five-day training session, commissioned by General Machinery Trading Company, was held at the Retired Government Employees Hospital in Myanmar's capital city, Naypyitaw.
The main aim of the training was to provide a broad understanding of all of the essential issues related to Solar Direct Drive technology and vaccine storage. The programme ensured that Ministry of Health technicians were given first-hand practical experience of all of the stages required to install, and maintain reliable vaccine refrigerators.
The participants came from a wide range of backgrounds with varying levels of previous experience, some with experience in electrical installation and cold chain administration, and only a few with previous experience with refrigeration. The course was structured to ensure that even those with no prior knowledge earned a broad understanding of all the issues, and came away with first-hand practical experience of all the stages required.
The new skills and technical knowledge that participants developed during the training programme will benefit the results of immunisation programmes by potentially reducing the number of spoiled vaccines whilst also benefitting the in-country work of the Ministry of Health more widely.
Dulas' solar direct drive product line was developed to respond to the challenges of vaccine storage and access to electricity in remote areas, which is a problem for immunisation programmes worldwide. This led to the development of Dulas' complete stand-alone solar refrigerators and the innovation of Freeze Free® technology to protect the vaccines from being exposed to harmful freezing temperatures.
The Dulas VC200 SDD is one of the largest Hot Zone Rated & WHO pre-qualified solar direct vaccine refrigerators currently available. The British-made refrigerator boasts a 132 litre vaccine storage capacity with the option of an integrated Solar Socket function that can be used by health workers for mobile phone charging and temperature monitoring, as well as providing power for a much-needed light source.
Catherine McLennan, Account Manager at Dulas, said: "Helping on the ground is embedded in Dulas' ethos. We wanted to go above and beyond manufacture and supply of our solar vaccine refrigerators, and extend our expertise in the area to the health technicians who rely on our products day to day to effectively administer vaccinations to the Myanmar population."
"It was an exciting time to be in Myanmar. The participants were enthusiastic about the training and the skills that they could learn from it. By the end of the session everyone was well-versed in the technical and practical aspects of installation and aftercare of Dulas' solar refrigerators. The knowledge-developed training has empowered local technicians with the additional skills needed to support national health organisations and the Ministry of Health in their mission to improve health and achieve full immunisation throughout the population of Myanmar."
Understanding the complex challenges of remote areas, and the specific requirements of vaccines, has always been the driver of innovation at Dulas and crucial to the success of immunisation programmes worldwide. Dulas will continue to roll out training programmes around the world as part of a global effort to eradicate infectious diseases by immunisation and achieve good health and well-being for all.
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