Gauteng-based medical refrigeration company, Zero Medical, a division of Zero Appliances, has announced a new healthcare venture that involves the development of self-sustained and off-grid health and nutrition centres (HNCs) fashioned out of shipment containers.

According to Executive at Zero Medical, Albert Wessels, their container clinics are ideal for the rural African setting because they come equipped with essential equipment and are solar powered.

“The number one problem with the typical container clinics deployed in rural areas is the lack of or erratic power supply. Hence, our Health Hub is a completely off-grid solution. It functions on solar power with some LPgas appliances manufactured here at our factory,” Wessels told eHealthNews.

The HNCs are equipped with WHO approved vaccine cold chain, which makes it fully WHO compliant, and also hosts off-grid household appliances for food preservation, water heating and cooking purposes. Also included are two roof mounted solar panels (one for the WHO approved vaccine fridge with Sure Chill® integrated ice bank technology and the other one for the solar pack for a laptop, printer and lights); a roof mounted water tank and complete septic tank kit with external toilet; a water purification system; and furniture for the examination room and waiting room.

Last year Zero Medical developed a scale model of their HNC which they showcased to representatives at the 15th TechNet Conference in October 2017 in Portugal. Since then they have received a lot of interest and requests from a number of African countries. They are also involved in an on-going communication with UNICEF and are looking at certain donor eligible countries for the first possible roll-outs.

“We are in talks with in-country Departments of Health as well as the private sector, including some mining companies who are seeking social responsibly projects of value. Primary healthcare will always be a top priority for any country,” said Wessels.

“I’ve been summoned by the Minister of Health in Zambia for a meeting in February to discuss the roll-out of our HNCs in Zambia. We’re also planning on meeting with a Zimbabwean delegation around the same time,” continued Wessels.

Zero Medical has also developed transportation solutions to deliver medicine and healthcare supplies. This includes a drone, which can deliver within a range of 200 kilometres. The drone is especially equipped with a WHO pre-qualified vaccine carrier (carry-box).

“This is enough to get lifesaving critical vaccines to its destination quickly when a person’s life is at stake. Alternatively, we have-off road motorcycles and quad bike solutions for delivery of vaccines in larger carriers,” concluded Wessels.

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