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The Cold Reality of Vaccines in Developing Countries

4 Apr 2017Technology news
3 minute read

Vodafone Americas Foundation Wireless Innovation Project has helped first winner experience “incredible growth”.

At Nexleaf, we apply innovative approaches and use data to address global health challenges. One such challenge is ensuring safe and effective vaccination in developing countries. Vaccines can protect people from diseases like measles, rubella, polio, and pertussis, but in places with unreliable infrastructure, life-saving vaccines are at risk.

Vaccines need to be kept between 2°C and 8°C. Yet, according to the World Health Organisation and UNICEF, only 2% of health clinics in low- and middle-income countries had functional vaccine refrigeration equipment with optimal technology. When vaccine fridges in rural clinics fail, which happens often, vaccines can lose their potency, and that community is left unprotected. We understood that technology could play a vital role in improving the global public health landscape, so we developed ColdTrace.

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ColdTrace5 in the field in Mozambique. Photo credit: Nexleaf Analytics.

Nexleaf’s ColdTrace platform consists of a low-cost wireless device, cloud analytics, and a web-based data dashboard. The ColdTrace sensor device tracks fridge temperature and clinic power availability. The device wirelessly uploads the data, and the system automatically alerts healthcare workers via text message when vaccines are in danger. Our customisable and user-friendly data dashboard provides analytics and report-generating tools. The data collected by ColdTrace can be used by Ministries of Health to identify failing fridges for maintenance visits, make informed decisions on equipment procurement, and understand how many hours of grid power are available each day at remote clinics. Nexleaf designs cost-effective tools for Ministries of Health with limited budgets.

Nexleaf was the first-place winner of Vodafone Americas Foundation’s Wireless Innovation Project (WIP) in 2013. Through WIP, the Foundation awards grants to organisations building technology for social good. The US$300,000 grant Nexleaf received has helped us to partner with large vaccine delivery organisations, expand into international markets, and iterate on the technology in rural clinics and health facilities.

Since 2013, we’ve seen incredible growth and promise in improving cold supply chain performance around the globe. Since piloting our prototype in just eight facilities in Kenya, we’ve expanded to seven countries, and ColdTrace now protects the vaccine supply for more than 6.1 million babies born each year. We’ve also been able to partner with organisations like and Gavi; our collaboration will use data to strengthen vaccine cold chain systems worldwide, so that more kids receive safe, potent vaccines that protect them from preventable diseases.

If you have a similar passion for social good and are developing a technology idea to address a world problem, enter your project into Vodafone Americas Foundation’s Wireless Innovation Project before the March 6 deadline. You can learn more about Nexleaf’s technology for social impact at

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Dr Martin Lukac is a Founder and the Chief Technology Officer of Nexleaf Analytics. He also serves as a Visiting Scientist at UCLA.

Like this? Here’s what you should read next:

Vodafone Foundation - - The Vodafone Americas Foundation is part of the network of 27 Vodafone Foundations around the world. The Wireless Innovation Project is part of the Vodafone Foundation Connecting for Good programme which focuses on combining charitable giving and communications technology to make a difference in the world.

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